Crack the Skye
I know for some of you it will take a moment to process that I even listened to this album. The grade I give it at the end may very well blow your mind.
As a result of this album, I listened to the rest of the Mastodon catalogue, and it is not for me. There is too much screaming. Of it's genre, I'm sure it's exemplary, but that's not something I can stomach in large portions. The amount it happens here is perfect for me, thank you very much.
What an album this is. I couldn't tell you any of the lyrics, aside from the very first line, "I flew beyond the sun before it was time." Apparently, from what I read, this album tells a story of a paralyzed boy traveling back in time and encountering Rasputin, who tries to steal the boy's body and come back to the present... or something like that. I don't know. It's inconsequential. Just listen to the music! They sing just enough to keep me interested, and there are some wonderful layers here. You hear more every time you listen.
Personally, my favourite is the slow burn of "The Czar," an 11-minute epic about nothing in particular (I think...). There is atonality everywhere, as there should be, and they handle it masterfully. This is what happens when a band on the fringes adds just enough of a popular ethos to their work; it is unique and true to their style while being entirely approachable to those on the outside. Is it for everyone? God, no. But it's for more than one would have thought.