This is a must-have

While 2002’s Remission and follow-up Leviathan possess much sentimental value for many, Crack the Skye will deservedly be viewed as a major milestone in Mastodon’s career. Thus, the Atlanta prog-metallers’ decision to perform the entire nearly critic-proof concept piece and document it with a live DVD/CD was a no-brainer.

Dedicated followers know Mastodon’s live status quo by now – there’s no banter and little concession made to certain crowd favourites as they effortlessly replicate even their most intricate compositions with a connection established through years of touring, anchored by drummer Brann Dailor’s extraordinary fills. Despite this, Crack the Skye’s subject matter and psychedelic/70s prog-rock influences has resulted in the honing of a dynamic, intense performance featuring enhanced production values. The audience embraces the main set, but it’s a real kick to see Mastodon cut loose during part two, highlighted by a colossal ‘Mother Puncher’ and crushing cover of Melvins’ ‘The Bit’. The live vocals (predominantly guitarist Brent Hinds) are a little hit or miss; he has his flatter moments, but by and large the three-pronged attack brings it all together.

The obligatory audio disc contains the full set, but the DVD extras are thin. The only extra content is Crack the Skye – The Movie, containing the films projected on-screen behind the band while performing the album. It’s highly detailed, but likely only a novelty for most. The band interviews on The Workhorse Chronicles DVD provided great insight into a hard-working band then on the rise; a sequel now they’ve become a major success would have been appreciated. That aside, if Crack the Skye topped your end of year list in 2009, this is a must have and is a tasty teaser for the band’s forthcoming new album.

1. Oblivion
2. Divinations
3. Quintessence
4. The Czar
5. Ghost of Karelia
6. Crack the Skye
7. The Last Baron
8. Circle of Cysquatch
9. Aqua Dementia
10. Where Strides the Behemoth
11. Mother Puncher
12. The Bit