• Record Label: Reprise
  • Release Date: Mar 24, 2009
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. 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.
  2. Crack the Skye presents a stunningly original fusion of sounds.
  3. Crack The Skye is a monolithic achievement from a band that never compromises in terms of vision or style. It's easily the best metal album of the last 10 years.
  4. It’s the rarest type of album: one that exceeds every expectation you may have, branding itself in your mind forever and constantly surprising you with how amazing it is.
  5. Crack the Skye has the feel of a classic metal album, steeped in impressive musicianship and stylized construction; it’s the kind of album you can repeatedly rock out to without ever feeling the desire to skip even one moment of its sprawling majesty.
  6. Crack the Skye is a prog-metal classic, void of pretension or hesitation.
  7. It’s the songs that matter most on Crack The Skye, and the songs have rarely sounded stronger.
  8. Blender
    80
    Mastodon present a prog-metal concept that would make Stephen Hawking bang his head.
  9. If this all sounds a bit heavy going, Crack the Skye offers plenty of simple pleasures as Mastodon heap on the musical melodrama, with a more-is-more approach to fretwork that's bound to see them liven up moshpits when they support Metallica this summer.
  10. There will be naysayers among the band's extreme, tatted legions. But Crack the Skye is an awesome display.
  11. 80
    While the band still lack a truly distinctive vocalist, it's become clear that with their mastery of water, earth, and skye, Mastodon's music now feels as powerfully elemental as its subject matter.
  12. Fantastic in every sense, the album is also girded with hard-fought musical and emotional maturity.
  13. The album will be attractive to head bangers, math rockers, and now even classic-rock devotees thanks to guitarists Brent Hinds's and Bill Kelliher's deep devotion to the almighty riff.
  14. As is the case with metal music in general, it’s best enjoyed as one gigantic, ostentatious package, and although Mastodon’s approach has been altered slightly on this album, they never fail to deliver that end of the bargain, record sales be damned.
  15. First off, a warning: the best way to encounter Mastodon's Crack the Skye for the first time is with headphones. Reported to be a mystical -- if crunchy -- concept record about Tsarist Russia, this is actually the most involved set of tracks, both in terms of music and production, the band has ever recorded. "Ambitious" is a word that regularly greets Mastodon -- after all, they did an entire album based on Moby Dick -- but until now, that adjective may have been an understatement. There is so much going on in these seven tracks that it's difficult to get it all in a listen or two (one of the reasons that close encounters of the headphone kind are recommended). It may seem strange that the band worked with Bruce Springsteen producer Brendan O'Brien this time out, but it turns out to be a boon for both parties: for the band because O'Brien is obsessive about sounds, textures, and finding spaces in just the right places; for O'Brien because in his work with the Boss he's all but forgotten what the sounds of big roaring electric guitars and overdriven thudding drums can sound like. The guitar arrangements on tracks like "Divinations" and "The Czar," while wildly different from one another, are the most intricate, melodically complex things the band has ever recorded. There are also more subtle moments such as the menacing, brooding, and ultimately downer cuts such as "The Last Baron," where tempos are slowed and keyboards enter the fray and stretch the time, adding a much more multidimensional sense of atmosphere and texture. Still, Crack the Skye rocks, and hard! Its shifting tempos and key structures are far more meaty and forceful than most prog metal, and menace and cosmological speculation exist in equal measure, providing for a spot-on sense of balance. Some of the hardcore death metal conservatives may have trouble with this set, but the album wasn't recorded for them -- or anybody else. Crack the Skye is the sound of a band stretching itself to its limits and exploring the depth of its collective musical identity as a series of possibilities rather than as signatures. And yes, that is a good thing.
  16. Crack the Skye follows Mastodon’s uncanny tradition of crafting a brand of heavy metal that is unabashed, mazelike, and above all, fresh.
  17. 'The Czar' is a microcosm of Crack The Skye: thuddingly impressive, richly textured and constantly surprising.
  18. In a way, Mastodon operates something like prime-era Metallica, unleashing these huge, blistering tracks that journey over peaks and valleys and ditches and oceans before leaving you spinning.
  19. Hinds and Co. have dispensed with the neanderthal growls and screams of past records, which might have robbed Crack the Skye of its surprising grace and pushed it closer to the nu-metal end of the spectrum.
  20. The overwhelming headiness, relentless heaviness, behemoth riffing, technical proficiency and epic scope of Crack (at least three listens are needed before it all sinks in) should be enough to prove that these guys are the Rush of extreme metal.
  21. Alternative Press
    80
    The music is as ambitious as the plot, but more coherent. [May 2009, p.116]
  22. Wanna hear the real masters of puppets? Pop this record on and recoil as you realise the aforementioned are but limp and loose-limbed marionettes compared to Mastodon’s array of all-conquering modern metal cacophonies.
  23. Mojo
    80
    It is Mastodon's ability to blend such grandstanding flourishes with a powerful sense of songcraft that suggests Crack The Skye might be some "Master Of Puppets" breakthrough for the Atlanta quartet. [May 2009, p.98]
  24. Crack the Skye is Mastodon's most involved album to date, relying on hyper-intricate guitar arrangements and production nuance in service of its freaky inter-dimensional mythology.
  25. Happily, the Atlanta quartet has jettisoned most of its sludge aesthetic and now crafts a dynamic sort of hard-rocking head music, equal parts King Crimson and King's X.
  26. 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.
  27. There’s some really wicked ideas buried in the mud here, but between some humdrum instrumental passages and a lot of nu-metal lite-style singing and the general mess of sonics trying to pull them out is like forcing yourself to listen to Joe Satriani for the cool parts.
  28. Q Magazine
    60
    As richly rewarding a work of brilliance as it is, Crack The Skye will nonetheless be beyond the ken of all but those with the most open of minds--or pre--attuned ears. [Apr 2009, p.107]
  29. For metal devotees seeking heaviness and shred paired with otherworldly curio, Crack the Skye is the be all and end all, but for anybody without a Celtic Frost tattoo, do not follow "the wise man's staff / Encased in crystal."
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 189 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 11 out of 189
  1. Apr 24, 2012
    10
    This album is a masterpiece from start to finish. Mastodon continue to redefine the progressive metal sound. I feel this will be the albumThis album is a masterpiece from start to finish. Mastodon continue to redefine the progressive metal sound. I feel this will be the album all other Mastodon albums will be judged by for years to come. Full Review »
  2. JohnA
    Sep 21, 2009
    10
    From rapid crushing riffs to shimmering melodies Crack The Skye has it all, something for everything. The interplay between Troy Sanders and From rapid crushing riffs to shimmering melodies Crack The Skye has it all, something for everything. The interplay between Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds with the vocals ia fantastic, and the guitar solos are astounding. There's twists and turns, here Mastodon take you on a thrilling journey through beautiful soundscapes. Full Review »
  3. Jul 17, 2022
    10
    timeless psychedelic prog metal, not much more to it than that. The instrumental version of this album is almost even better if you can find it