Crack The Skye’s clearly the least immediate release in Mastodon’s oeuvre. Which isn’t to say it’s bad. It just takes a few more close listenings (and, as you’ll soon discover, an acceptance of their increased progginess). Instead of the raw crustiness you found, even amid the most ambitious arcs of Remission, Leviathan, and Blood Mountain, Crack floats by with a — fittingly — (traced in) airier feel. Remember, each record’s focused on an element — fire, water, earth, and now air]. The opener “Oblivion” offers a suitably grandiose, but still raw enough (and heavy) entrance, “Divinations” packs a dirtier wallop (especially live), and Neurosis’ Scott Kelly adds a needed gnarly bluster to the expansive title track. When you venture into the four-part 10-minute “Czar” suite and 13-minute closer “The Last Baron,” you’ll need sit back and take your time without jumping to conclusions. I was dismissive at first, but the collection’s growing on me, and I look forward to seeing where it stands after a few more spins. Begin your own trek at the band’s MySpace.
Crack The Skye is out 3/24 via Reprise.