Mastodon: Crack The Skye

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Mastodon: <em>Crack The Skye </em>

An epic prog-rock trek

Mastodon’s past flirtations with prog have consistently pitched toward the metal side of scrimmage, never fully embracing the melodic pomp of Yes and ELP. Crack The Skye—though still intrinsically a metal album—is rife with unabashed overtures to the symphonic rock of yore. The mosaic’s central tile is “The Czar,” a four-part ode to Rasputin bursting with Moog lines and Eastern European folk. “Ghost of Karelia” briefly doffs the fox mask to revisit the band’s signature style—double-bass drums and tuneful hooks welded to inscrutable libretto: “Wrathful ones, nine eyes gaze / Holding skulls / Filled and laced / With human blood.” Yet the most progressive part of the album is the band’s restrained temperament. Amidst blistering tritone riffs and arpeggiated chords is a group keener to explore sonic harmony than crank the distortion. Crack the Skye is an epic trek across the space-time continuum, entirely on Mastodon’s terms.