While Mastodon wasn’t one of the five bands of 2009 which I fell in love with they are the 6th. I have the site’s resident music guru, necromoonyeti, to thank for recommending this band. It wasn’t just the band he recommended but their latest album, Crack the Skye, which he insisted I check out. I had no choice but to listen to the album since he insisted and he hasn’t failed me with his recommendations in the past.
The one song in the album which has become one of my current favorite songs and a recurring one in my playlist is Oblivion. The song starts very ominously with deep chords from guitar duo Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher before being joined by bassist Troy Sanders. Brann Dailor soon joins in on drums. The song is pretty much about a paraplegic boy learning how to use astral projection in conjunction with being set in Czarist Russia. Yeah, the song’s themes are quite a lot to wrap one’s mind around, but the music and the melodic vocals between Dailor on verses, Sanders bridging things in the center before moving onto hinds on chorus makes for a badass production.
Oblivion showed me that the specific sounds of sludge and progressive metal do not have to be mutually exclusive from each other. In an album that’s full of great songs, Oblivion in Crack the Skye is Mastodon pushing the boundaries of what they’re capable of musically beyond what their fans are used to. This is both a good and bad thing. Good in that new fans will easily gravitate to this particular track while hardcore fans may see it as a softening of the band’s style. Call it the “Bob Rock Syndrome” but I’d rather think that particular insult doesn’t belong with Oblivion and used more by some hardcore Mastodon fans as a last-ditch attempt to keep the band to themselves and not share with a new crop of fans.