Mastodon – Crack the Skye
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2010
Wow, this doesn't sound like the same band we jammed on our way into LA five years ago. I remember listening to Leviathan for the first and last time (for whatever reason) at 3AM on the freeway into the heart of Hollywood and just having Mastodon be the perfect soundtrack for the on set of the most awesome Summer of my life. Metal is something I know nothing about. Literally nothing, and I wish I did (but only because John Darnielle loves it so much and he's my hero on all fronts). And I really like Mastodon. But maybe I love this metal because it isn't the same double-bass-drum heavy stuff I subtly make fun of in the newsletter every week. Actually, it was while writing the newsletter that I first listened to Crack the Skye and that combined with reading all about the weird thematic crux of the album (wormholes, Stephen Hawking, and suicide) sucked me into this weird sense of awe where I thought it was great. Listening to it now is really my first listen-through where I'm paying attention and it's blowing my mind in the best way. In that way where I can sense the layers, and I can hear all of the depth and complexity but it's going to take many listens to decode all of it and appreciate it on the proper level that it deserves. It doesn't sound loud enough on my stereo, but that's ok. The solos are still sick, and the evidence that it's just an immaculately crafted record is all there. It just sounds fucking great, and it's a great example of what happens when a little beloved band signs to a major and uses all the right resources and enhances their sound while not betraying anything they'd built up before. I think this is going to be one of those groundbreaking metal albums, something that serves as a gateway to the unitiated because like punk or pop proving that they too could be art, metal is sort of the last fronteir of outsider music that well, doesn't need to be outsider music if people just approach it with an open mind. I mean, I never thought I'd ever say that I thought a metal album was beautiful, but this is a beautiful record. Beautiful and sad and metal. Bonus: when I was music director I got a Mastodon shirt along with the album. I'm pretty sure the album disappeared with one of my incredibly unreliable staff members, but I still have the shirt and only recently started wearing it. I feel like a poser, but the shirt fits and laundry is expensive and well, this is a fucking great record and I love getting the thumbs up from metal dudes.