I have been waiting on Crack the Skye for about a year. What I mean by that is that I have been on a non-stop rescue effort to see why Mastodon “new album buzz” seemed overdue by the end of 07’. Out of respect, and what little journalistic integrity I might have, I need to say and have been a devout follower of these guys since 04’.
Out of all their influences Skye reminds me a lot of Neurosis. While this album sounds nothing like Through Silver in Blood or Times of Grace, they are all seamless in execution. In other words it's not made out of singles, a fear that I held firmly with the addition of new producer Brenden O’Brien. Thankfully, Mastodon and the new hot-shot producer hone their conceptual texture (wind/ethereal) with great diligence. The band had the fortunate chance to record the whole album, and then smooth out the details during the Mayhem summer tour. I have to admit that the production move from Matt Bayles to O’Brien was a positive one in the end. While the album does sound more compressed than previous works it fits like a glove. This album slowly churns and crafts its weight, which explains the Neurosis comparison, while keeping all the hallmark tones and superlatives that Mastodon has garnered over the years. The band also intends to play Skye in its entirety live, which adds to my out of many one assertion.
The biggest individual improvements are Bill/Brent's dueling guitar work, and Troy’s sung vocals. The two axemen have always been part techni-color(Bill) and part southern-southern(Brent), both perfectly showcased on "Divinations." Songs like “Oblivion” and “The Czar” provide Brent with more then enough space to solo and he doesn’t miss the opportunity to tear it up. The lead guitarist was also was the first member take a swing a sung vocals on Leviathan, a risk that paid huge dividends. Since then, Brann has been used sparingly while Troy started singing full time. This album would have been a huge mistake if Troy didn't improve his vocal skills, luckily it ended up being the single greatest improvement.