Tag Archives: top 25 albums of the decade

#20: Crack the Skye, Mastodon

Editor’s Note: We will be posting short descriptions, analysis, and essays from specific albums on the Top 25 Albums of the Decade list. If things go as planned, we’ll get to all of them…

For a band named after a prehistoric elephantlike mammal, Mastodon’s complex metal is anything but outdated. Crack the Skye — the band’s fifth album — shatters the glass ceiling of traditional metal by replacing overused screams with clean, biting vocals. The band has been nothing but forthcoming about their plans to continue to expand their sound — 2004’s Leviathan was a melodic thrasher while Blood Mountain traded speed for hooks, going so far as enlisting Josh Homme of stoner-rock outfit Queens of the Stone Age for guest vocals. For Crack the Skye, Mastodon venture even further into unknown territory, bringing well-known producer Brendan O’Brien (who has worked with Train, Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan) into the studio.

O’Brien manages to achieve the near impossible by combining the punishing, deep riffs of Mastodon’s thrash tendencies with the band’s tumbling, complex and slower guitar movements. The unity of vision here is spectacular — the album, despite being broken into seven songs, coalesces into a cohesive statement. Rarely do pop bands, let alone heavy metal groups like Mastodon, so competently and effortlessly utilize two lead-vocalists. Throughout Crack the Skye, Brent Hinds’ gritty, nasal whine cascades into the deeper soaring croon of bassist Troy Sanders, endowing the songs with a loud-soft dynamic usually reserved for classic rock. Where the vocals relent, Mastodon’s virtuosic instrumentals move to center stage, effortlessly bending songs from distorted funeral dirges to bright, pounding, Metallica-inspired guitar hooks.

Even Crack the Skye’s lyrics are uncompromisingly ambitious in telling the story of a quadriplegic boy who travels through wormholes to Russia and is martyred along with Rasputin. As though that wasn’t enough, drummer Brann Dailor, who wrote most of the lyrics, has revealed in interviews that the record is meant to address his 14 year-old sister Skye’s suicide when they were teenagers.

Musically, the record has little to do with suicide. Mastodon have reimagined the limits of heavy metal music, giving a genre that always seems dangerously close to killing itself with repetition a whole new reason to feel alive.

Mastodon | Myspace

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Top 25 Albums of the Decade

This post will be far too short and much too whimsical. This is a heavy topic, god damnit — the top 25 albums of the decade! That’s ten years, people! Ten fucking years. I crawled from 12 to 22. Others did the same. Music came pouring out of our hands, feet, and kisses. We’re still suckers for a well-timed scream, still adverse to female vocalists, and still lapping up every unknown album that comes up on Mediafire. Bear with us, we’ve got a lot more listening to do. And so do you. So here it is, Fred’s top 25 Albums of the Decade.

331 songs, 1.53 GB of data, 27 album covers = 20 hours 34 minutes and 15 seconds of that tingling, nervous stomach drop effect you get the moment before the chorus hits and the music takes you somewhere you never thought you’d go. Close your eyes, tap your snare drum three times, and repeat after me: there are no albums like these.

1) Radiohead – Kid A

2) Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary

3) Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I’m Dreaming

4) Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights

5) Frog Eyes – Tears of the Valedictorian

6) The Strokes – Is this it?

7) Grandaddy – Software Slump

8.) Sigur Ros – ( ) & Agaetis Byrjun

9) Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles

10) Future of the Left – Curses

11) Akron Family – Akron/Family

12) The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

13) Why? – Alopecia

14) Beck – Sea Change

15) Arcade Fire – Funeral

16) Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf

17) LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver

18) Andrew W.K. – I Get Wet

19) The Walkmen – Bows & Arrows

20) Mastodon – Crack the Skye

21) TV on the Radio – Cookie Mountain

22) The Rapture – Echoes

23) Godspeed – Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven

24) Muse – Origin of Symmetry & Absolution

25) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – S/T

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