John Doran of The Quietus has posted a track-by-track review of the forthcoming MASTODON album, "Crack The Skye". Read it at this location.
Patrizia Mazzuoccolo of the "Tinitus" radio show, which airs every Wednesday on Norway's NRK P3, spoke to MASTODON drummer Brann Dailor in late November prior the band's concert in Oslo as part of the "Unholy Alliance: Chapter III" tour with SLAYER, TRIVIUM and AMON AMARTH.
Although MASTODON's new album, "Crack The Skye", is a conceptual piece in the same vein as the band's previous releases, it is not about air but "ether." "The whole story has little to do with what the album emotionally is really about," clarifies Dailor. "But everything in the lyrics and the story is metaphors. We wanted to stick with elements and we wanted to do the 'ether' record. Ether is what the soul is made out of and it took a few months to connect all the dots."
Dailor goes on to explain the "Crack The Skye" concept: "There is a paraplegic and the only way that he can go anywhere is if he astral travels. He goes out of his body, into outer space and a bit like Icarus, he goes too close to the sun, burning off the golden umbilical cord that is attached to his solar plexus. So he is in outer space and he is lost, he gets sucked into a wormhole, he ends up in the spirit realm and he talks to spirits telling them that he is not really dead. So they send him to the Russian cult, they use him in a divination and they find out his problem. They decide they are going to help him. They put his soul inside Rasputin's body. Rasputin goes to usurp the czar and he is murdered. The two souls fly out of Rasputin's body through the crack in the sky(e) and Rasputin is the wise man that is trying to lead the child home to his body because his parents have discovered him by now and think that he is dead. Rasputin needs to get him back into his body before it's too late. But they end up running into the Devil along the way and the Devil tries to steal their souls and bring them down…there are some obstacles along the way."
The title track, "Crack The Skye", features vocals by Scott Kelly of NEUROSIS. "We heard Scott's voice all over that track," Dailor says. "It's really NEUROSIS-sounding and then when it became the title track, in particular vocally and lyrically it had a lot to do with Skye so it made it even more perfect that Scott would be doing the verses on it just because he is very familiar with that tremendous loss, suicide, stuff like that…"
The album, due out for release in March 2009, is a dark conglomeration of musical as well as conceptual layers. "'Crack The Skye' means a number of different things," Dailor offers. "You'd probably get a different answer from the other members of the band as to what the meaning of it is and I can also come up with three different ones. The main one for me would be (that) Skye was my sister’s name and she died when I was 15. She was 14, she killed herself and it changed my life. When we started working on the material, I knew that Brent [MASTODON singer/guitarist Brent Hinds] was coming from a deeper place musically. He was shaken up from his accident in Las Vegas, was traumatized by that and I think that has a lot to do with the sound of the record. He is pretty emotive with the guitar and from that depression he was in came a lot of that material — kind of slow and spaced out, real psychedelic. I could see that there was something a lot deeper going on so it was the perfect opportunity lyrically to dig a little deeper myself into some demons in the past and I'd never really gone there before; you know, it's a touchy subject. But I felt that with the songs being the way they were that it was the perfect opportunity to get rid of some stuff myself… the 'Crack in the Skye' is the moment you realize that that person is gone."
Exclusive excerpts from the interview were originally aired on the November 26, 2008 edition of "Tinitus". The show is now available on podcast at this location.
"Crack the Skye" was recorded at Southern Tracks Studios in Atlanta and was produced and mixed by Brendan O'Brien, who has previously worked with VELVET REVOLVER, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, PEARL JAM, AC/DC and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, among others.
"Crack the Skye" track listing:
04. The Czar
05. Ghost of Karelia
06. Crack The Skye
07. The Last Baron
Footage of MASTODON performing as a three-piece on November 30, 2008 at Tivoli in Utrecht, Holland can be viewed below (guitarist Bill Kelliher was unable to complete the tour as he was hospitalized in London on November 3):