Mastodon

Crack the Skye

“Mastodon are a full-on metal band for people who think they’re too
cool to like metal,” writes Will Hermes in his four-star Rolling
Stone
review of the latest from these veteran Atlanta bone
crushers. Given the band’s recent elbow rubbing with such Official Cool
Dudes as Dave Grohl and Josh Homme, it’s not hard to grasp Hermes’
point. 

Yet to my ears, Crack the Skye — Mastodon’s second
major-label disc, after their 2006 breakthrough, Blood Mountain
is actually the foursome’s attempt to prove that a few
years of hipster-metal hobnobbing haven’t loosened their claim on
out-and-out dorkhood.Sure, there’s more melody here than on previous
Mastodon albums; opener “Oblivion” even has a sweetly grungy Alice in
Chains breakdown. And Brendan O’Brien’s production does increase the
fist-pumping factor in “Divinations” and “Crack the Skye” — the
latter of which bites some of Metallica’s Black Album rumble.
But this is still a forbiddingly dense piece of post-prog rock, with
two cuts stretching past the ten-minute mark and (at least) one about
Rasputin, the creepy Russian monk who’s been providing suburban
basement dwellers with lyrical fodder for about a century
now. 

It’ll take a hardy Arcade Fire fan to bang his head to “Ghost of
Karelia.” (Reprise)

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