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NAME: Mastodon
PROGRESS REPORT: Crack The Skye out early 2009; recorded in Atlanta, Georgia at Southern Tracks studio

You don’t need us or Mastodon vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders to tell you what Mastodon’s next LP, Crack the Skye, will sound like. It’s going to be some combination of “brutal,” “fucking” and “epic.” But the album does follow some brutal problems for the band. One setback, says Sanders, was Brent Hinds’ head injuries following the MTV Video Awards. Band members also had family problems to deal with, which made the time they spent writing and recording in their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, that much more necessary. It was not only their first real break from touring in eight years, it was also one of the few times they’ve recorded close to home.

Luckily one of their top choices for producer was fellow Atlantan Brendan O’Brien, who’s recorded Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and AC/DC, among many others. They spent June working with O’Brien at Atlanta’s Southern Tracks, a relaxed experience that let them leave at the end of the day to “go home at night and sleep in our own beds and pet our own dogs,” says Sanders. That sort of routine sounds neither brutal nor epic, but the calm left room for the band to explore new ideas. “[Crack The Skye] is a departure from everything we’ve previously recorded in the sense that we kinda strapped on our aeroshells and departed from Earth for a while, and then captained to the ethereal element of the universe and kind of slept on the roof of the world for a while to get a perspective on this record.” Metaphors like that are likely why Sanders refers to his band as “this art we call Mastodon.” They wanted a creepier album, but they honed in on big classic rock sounds too — King Crimson, Yes, and Frank Zappa. Its seven tracks cover an hour, due in part to Sanders’ favorite song, “The Last Baron.” “It’s the last track, it’s 15 minutes long and it’s like an epic-journey-home-type song,” he says. “It’s a bizarre achievement for us to have a 15-minute song where we don’t feel like it’s repetitive.”

Though Crack The Skye has a story, it seems less linear this time than either Leviathan or Blood Mountain, and hints at something less tangible and more esoteric. “Basically we’re exploring the ethereal world. We’re dissecting the dark matter that dominates the universe, in a nutshell,” says Sanders. There’s a lot more. “It gets way more detailed and far beyond fucked up if I were to explain the whole thing to you.” Mastodon are on the Unholy Alliance Tour with Slayer, but they aren’t playing much from Crack The Skye. Not because it’s too hard to explain, but because Slayer fans aren’t patient people. “We just play what’s familiar to folks. We start, we punish, and we don’t stop. Then we walk off the stage. We don’t give anybody any time to dislike us,” he explains. “And we don’t allow any dead space in our sets [for Slayer fans] to throw Snickers bars or AA batteries at us.”

If there’s a band you want Progress Report to drag out of the studio, or bed, for an update, shout out in the comments or e-mail tips@stereogum.com.

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Comments (26)
  1. Chris  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 0

    love this new s-gum segment. anyway you can get a progress report on band of horses?

  2. Eric  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 0

    Mastodon is by far the most progressive metal band out there right now. They continue to push the genre to a new and greater height. I feel like a little boy about to try his first beer, I’m so anxious to hear this new album!

  3. nick bahula  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 0

    I wonder what Right Said Fred is up to?

  4. This sounds really exciting. It makes me wanna dust off Blood Mountain and go through that shit. It’s been much too long.

    I heard Crack the Skye was a concept album about sucker-punching King Khan.

  5. Ao  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 0

    They spelled sky incorrectly. Maybe they are going for a quaint old-english feel like: Ye Olde Time Pube. Or maybe Skye is a stripper or an American Gladiator. Or maybe they’re talking about a part of Scotland? Any way, the spelling is dumb.

    :waits to be sarcastically enlightened by some highly-indignant fan boy:

    • BlueDrum  |   Posted on Mar 15th, 2009 0

      hmm… i can see what your saying BUT, its named Skye after branns sister who died when they were younger… so its probably not the best thing to make fun of hahahhaha

  6. Mustapha  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 0

    Brent Hinds is a fucking dickhead and it’s a goddamn shame that head injury wasn’t more severe, as in, he could never speak again (or walk or play a guitar)

    There isn’t a better or bigger example of 4 rednecks who made it big and decided their shit suddenly didn’t smell anymore. Bunch of arrogant motherfuckers who, hopefully, follow the plane crash scenario of their (spritual) forefathers.

    FUCK MASTADON and especially FUCK BRENT HINDS.

    • They make good music, and that’s what’s important.

      also, I’m not quite sure how wishing someone dies and/or becomes paralyzes makes you less of a dickhead than that supposed person.

    • Chris Dundas  |   Posted on Nov 27th, 2008 0

      hey mustapha fuck u, mastodon is pink floyd combined with metal, its not like some prog metal bands that do floydian stuff for a bit then they’ll crank up the distortion, mastodon does it in their own way that just works amazingly. I am so pumped for Crack the Skye, like blood mountain and leviathan, i hope this album will let me get taken to another world

    • Mackel  |   Posted on Dec 7th, 2008 0

      Shame on you!!!

  7. mark  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 0

    moog taurus!!

  8. Mustafa,

    Sounds like maybe somebody went to the same high school as the guys from Mastodon they year ahead of them. What did Brent Hinds ever do to your sorry ass?

    I can’t stand that Olivia Tremor Control don’t have to work for a living after they opened for my band in Athens back in the day. That don’t make ‘em bad people or a bad band. It just means I’m bitter and my band didn’t make it. Grow Up Dude!

  9. tallhood  |   Posted on Nov 27th, 2008 0

    Mustapha- Hey dumb sh*t- actually Brann and Bill are from NEW YORK. Obviously you dont know sh*t about a real metal band that will go down in history as classic/epic. Something System of a Down only dreamed about 5 years ago and never accomplished, never will. Mastodon actually has musical skills too btw, it helps to have talent with an instrument before trying to acheive fame

  10. Mike V.  |   Posted on Nov 27th, 2008 0

    Mastodon is a very unique band in the sense of where they have come and where they are going (album sense). Each album has a somewhat different sound that encompasses the listener onto an intense journey (profoundly stronger under the influence of hallucinogens).

  11. James L.  |   Posted on Nov 28th, 2008 0

    Why is Slayer tagged at the end of the article? Not a huge Mastodon fan, they are pretty unique, but how is Mastodon related to Slayer?

  12. I heard that Crack the Skye is supposed to be a concept album about Czarist Russia. I can’t wait for the album to drop! I am trying to get used to the idea of a more epic sound with less brutality, it took me a while to get used to Blood Mountain. I am sure the album will not let me down.

    The end of the article was just describing the tendencies for Slayer fans to be impatient and rather close minded to opening bands. Not all Slayer fans mind you, I am one, but I have many acquaintances that never bother to give the opening bands a chance and just want to rock out to Slayer. Could you picture how pissed off a raging Slayer fan would be at waiting through a 15 minute long song?

  13. Cucumber  |   Posted on Nov 28th, 2008 0

    Mustafa, you have it ass backwards. Actually the guys in Mastodon are the complete opposite of arrogant. Check out some of System’s shows and interviews and rethink your comment. Judging by many of System of A Down’s interviews and disrespect for basically everyone, they’re the arrogant ones.
    Mastodon are a unique sound and are also very diverse in their musical history and allows them to delve into their harder material in order to play with Slayer whom by far are the toughest crown to play in front of.
    Also how many bands can you go see live that just play? Bands that don’t bable on about meaningless shit now-a-days? Mastodon get out there and just play every show and you can tell they’re truely in it for the music. They can play with Cursive and Rise Against, and hang with Slayer and Metallica! What other bands can make such drastic changes between variety of shows?
    Crack The Skye will be epic!

  14. I think there should be a progress report for Noisettes. I loved their first album, and I’ve been waiting for another, but I haven’t heard anything from them. What happened?

  15. is metal really the new indie?
    that’s what all the kids keep saying
    damn, anyone know of some accessible new metal albums for a longtime metal-neglecter?

  16. bastardface  |   Posted on Nov 30th, 2008 0

    I`m just glad they avoided the usual “this next album`s gonna be heavier than anything we`ve ever done” cliche, which is usually a warning sign that it`s going to be hugely disappointing.

    If Mastodon says it`s going to be an epic mind-trip I f$%&ing well believe them.

  17. Connor Wagner  |   Posted on Dec 1st, 2008 0

    How the fuck did Brent affect your live other than the fact he brought you amazing music. These guys did nothing to deserve your wish of death. They are my favorite band along with Opeth and am very curious to why you would have to be an arrogant bitch about Mastodon. Crack the Skye will be fucking awesome for any Mastodon wether they are die hard to just “eh i like this band” kinda people!

  18. jonny the boy  |   Posted on Dec 1st, 2008 0

    Can we get an Arctic Monkeys update. I hear they are recording in the Desert with Josh Homme for this next one. I’m interested to hear how the change of scenery is treating them and what drugs they are using to support the inspirational process.

  19. Mauron  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2008 0

    c’mon Jessica, this page should be updated twice a week…

  20. Five years later and this is still an epic, brutal album. I loved this one so much that their last release felt like a bit of a step backwards.

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