Sound — 10
After getting into a fight with SOAD bassist Shavo Odadjian, an inebriated Brent Hinds was hospitalized with brain hemorrhaging. A devastating experience for Mastodon at the time but it would later result in amazing music written on an acoustic guitar by It's main music contributor. The overall wibe on the record is a Classic Rock, Creepy, Psychedelic, Metal, Mastodon kind of sound. Just listen to the intro in Oblivion or Ghost Of Karelia and you will know what I'm talking about. They have even used a keyboard player to raise the tension on the more Psychedelic/Proggy tracks Quintessence, Oblivion, The Last Baron and Crack The Skye. I think it makes the songs fit into the spaced-out theme that is on the album real good. Guitar: Even though the album consist of a lot of amazing harmonies and "moods" as I want to call it, written mostly by Mr. Hinds, the riffs on Crack The Skye is top notch as usual. I have to say that Brent and Bill is in my opinion the strongest guitar force in Hard-rock and Metal right now. The best riffs can be find in the last, crazy 13 minute long song The Last Baron but also in the singles Oblivion and Divinations. There's also a lot of soloing going on which there has not been a lot of during previous records. Brent is using the old school approach to his playing and it brings flavor to the songs. I especially like the ones in Oblivion and The Czar. Bass: As on the previous records, Troy Sanders has become famous for his fluency on the bass and way of using distortion pedals (and on this album even a Taurus foot synthesizer). This makes Mastodon sound more dynamic and broader and helps to get the creepy sounds that these songs needed and have. Drums: We all know Brann Dailor as a force behind the drum kit and on this album he is continuing to develop. And by developing I don't mean adding more fills and different techniques as there could be a little too much of on previous records. Brann has matured behind the drum kit and the focus is more on adding groove and feel to the songs which was necessary on this record I think.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrics: Mastodon has since Blood Mountain continued to develop their writing skills. The lyrics go real deep on this one and the themes are about astral travel, out of body experiences and the Tsarist Russia. Quiet spaced-out but it's just what an album like this need. Singing: Brent and Troy have during a course of three albums developed their singing/screaming skills and this album is not an exception. They have chosen to lay of the screaming a bit but it was necessary to make it fit with the music, the vocals is exactly right for this album. Even drummer Brann Dailor is contributing on the opening track Oblivion and I got to tell you that he sounds great, who new he could sing. My favorite vocal part on the album is still Brent's aggressive performance on first single Divinations. Also, as on the two previous records the Mastodudes invited Scott Kelly from Neurosis to do some screaming on the title track Crack the Skye, another genius move by the guys because on a Mastodon album you need some screaming.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm gonna to go out on a limb and say that this is the best Hard Rock/Metal album of the decade. If someone can tell me a better one, do it! The Last Baron, Oblivion and Divinations stand out as the best tracks but I have to say that I like em' all SO much. I've really missed an album like this since I got into Psychedelic Rock a la Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, but don't get me wrong, there is plenty of Metal stuff going on too. This is an all time classic and I'm recommending it to everyone that is into Metal and Rock.