Mastodon’s 2009 album “Crack the Skye” was your standard contemporary pop record: a set of seven songs, most of which clocked in at over five minutes, detailing the journey of a paraplegic boy whose soul is separated from his body when he astro travels too close to the sun. Yep, totally standard.
Mastodon is a master of a dying art form––the album. Their performance of “Crack the Skye” in its entirety on “Live at the Aragon” serves as a testament of that mastery.
Live albums can already be difficult to swallow and “Live at the Aragon” is no miraculous exception to the tropes of the category. Add to that the inclusion of an entire album, an already daunting listening task for many in the iTunes generation, and “Live at the Aragon” quickly limits its audience.
Those not turned off by these factors, however, will likely find something to enjoy in the band’s latest offering.
Mastodon isn’t a band of American idols, but fans of the band’s earlier records will have no problem with the less-than-stellar vocal performance, especially considering the precision with which the group plays their instruments.
Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher showcase impressive guitar acrobatics while drummer Brann Dailor and Bassist Troy Sanders provide an always-stable rhythm section.
The album’s accompanying DVD is an appreciated addition.
The band’s set features a video backdrop detailing the easily confusing narrative of “Crack the Skye,” and having not only the performance but also the video itself on DVD is sure to please fans.
In addition to “Crack the Skye,” the performance also includes one song from each of the band’s other albums (fans will surely debate whether the right selections were made) and a cover of The Melvins’ “The Bit.”
“Live at the Aragon” won’t change anyone’s opinion on live albums or Mastodon but the effort is something to be valued.
Mastodon belong to a group of performers ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Coheed & Cambria that won’t settle for three-and-a-half minute singles, opting instead to still fight for the appreciation of the album, and while “Live at the Aragon” may be an effort in a losing battle, it’s an effort––and a battle––worth noticing.