mastodon-crackMastodon – Crack the Skye (Reprise Records)

Take one look at Mastodon and you’d expect something brutal, something heavy and something terrifyingly dark. Four sons of the devil boasting tattoos, pierced ears and piercing stares, unkempt beards and biceps designed to unsettle your average cage fighter, you won’t be surprised to learn that the US band take their music to the limit.

What might make you sit up and take notice is that a quartet straight out of Con Air are the thinking man’s metal. This is Rush on steroids, Marillion with a metal edge and the dirty, disowned offspring of Dream Theater. Crack The Skye is a colossal exercise in 21st century prog and it is as addictive as it is corrosive.

Unrelenting in its pace and yet focused enough to demand the sharpest attention, it showcases one of rock’s most adventurous acts like never before. Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders have morphed into one vocal superpower and it is that dual assault on the vocal chords which keeps Mastodon head and shoulders above their New Wave Of American Heavy Metal peers.

Single Divinations is a delightful exercise in sustained aggression but by the time The Czar has invaded your speakers you realise this is a record worthy of special praise. It’s a masterpiece among modern classics and hints at the cracking finale that is The Last Baron. Mastodon have given themselves a tough act to follow. But then these dudes are nothing if not tough. Just look at them.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 They’ve Cracked It