SOUNDS///METAL MILITIA///LISTEN TO MASTODON

April 2, 2009  |  News, Sounds

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Though the band technically still has four living, breathing members, Metallica has been dead and gone for years. Luckily, stepping in to fill that monstrous gap is Atlanta-based MASTODON whose hybrid hard rock/metal sound is every bit as heavy (and members as hairy) as the name. Released last week, the band's fourth album (following 2006's  incredibly epic "Blood Mountain") "Crack The Skye" is a brutally gorgeous seven-track ticket to heaven via a long and twisted road through czarist Russian Hell. Continuing the band’s penchant for thematic content, the new disc focuses on they mythical life of Rasputin, whose existence the Mastodonians embellish with an array of compulsory metal mythology. The record’s story arc is perhaps best described by the band’s guitarist Bill Kelliher:

"There is a paraplegic and the only way that he can go anywhere is if he astral travels. He goes out of his body, into outer space and a bit like Icarus, he goes too close to the sun, burning off the golden umbilical cord that is attached to his solar plexus. So he is in outer space and he is lost, he gets sucked into a wormhole, he ends up in the spirit realm and he talks to spirits telling them that he is not really dead. So they send him to the Russian cult, they use him in a divination and they find out his problem. They decide they are going to help him. They put his soul inside Rasputin's body. Rasputin goes to usurp the czar and he is murdered. The two souls fly out of Rasputin's body through the crack in the sky(e) and Rasputin is the wise man that is trying to lead the child home to his body because his parents have discovered him by now and think that he is dead. Rasputin needs to get him back into his body before it's too late. But they end up running into the Devil along the way and the Devil tries to steal their souls and bring them down…there are some obstacles along the way."

When questioned about the archaic spelling of the word Skye in the disc’s title, Dailor went on to explain that "Crack the Skye" is also meant as an homage to his sister, Skye Dailor, who committed suicide at age 14: "My sister passed away when I was a teenager and it was awful, and there's no better way to pay tribute to a lost loved one than having an opportunity to be in a group with my friends and we make art together. Her name was Skye, so Crack the Skye means a lot of different things. For me personally, it means the moment of being told you lost someone dear to you, [that moment] is enough to crack the sky."

As a bonus for fans who still BUY music, the iTunes version of “Crack the Skye” comes with the to-die-for bonus of an instrumental version of the entire disc that plays like a full-fledged metal symphony in seven parts. Touring across the US now, and throughout Europe this summer with (unfortunately) Metallica, the prehistoric rockers should be considered a must-see for even the most jaded live music fan.

Read the NYTimes review of "Crack the Skye" HERE.

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Mastodon were the first Western band to ever record the kazak national anthem...

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