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It'll probably take Mastodon fans a while to warm up to Crack the Skye. The band's latest trades some of the brutal crunch associated with albums such as 2004's Leviathan in favor of an artsier, more intricate sound. Producer Brendan O'Brien, who worked most recently with Bruce Springsteen, pushes the vocals up front and accentuates melodic passages even on the aggressive title track, which begins with guttural growling before introducing a soaring chorus and studio tweakage that'll have aficionados screaming "Prog!" Still, multiple listens make it clear that the album isn't the sort of compromise performers talk themselves into when they're desperate for more airtime. Numbers like "Divinations" and "The Last Baron" are accessible yet challenging, with structural twists and turns every bit as intricate as they were in the past, if a bit more subtle. Unlike its prehistoric namesake, Mastodon, performing with Intronaut and Kylesa, is evolving in ways that should ensure its long-term survival.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.