Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 14th, 2013 - Rasputin Cracks The Bottle


Let's get crazy, shall we?  Yes, indeed!  The Meista here pairing Mastodon's rather enigmatic 2009 album, "Crack The Skye" and an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing Company!

Brewed in the tradition of the 18th century English brewers of Catherine the Great's Russian court, the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is a richly complex, with a wonderful "old-world" sapidity.  Old Rasputin pours an almost ink black with a frothy mocha head.  It smells like a musty, old bookshop, a fertile garden, and a chocolate shop all at once.  There are notes of rum soaked pipe tobacco, espresso, earthy soil, a hint of vanilla, and toffee.  The mouthfeel is silky and velvety with a medium body and a dry finish, and good warmth from the alcohol content (9% ABV).  Like Mastodon's musical approach, the Old Rasputin's flavor is very bold, very big, and very profound!  There are notes of peat, dark roasted coffee, aged bourbon, earthy hops, bitter dark chocolate, and a hint of anise and vanilla.  Wow... this ale packs a punch!  For an ale this multi-layered, this complex, this engaging, I needed an album of similar (if not grander) musical merit and depth... thus, "Crack The Skye"!

"Crack The Skye" is the 4th studio album by progressive metal monsters, Mastodon.  It was released on March 24th, 2009 and is their most successful album to date.  Drummer Brann Dailor has described it as a concept album that thematically explores a "story dealing variously with the art aesthetics of Tsarist Russia, astral travel, out of body experiences and Stephen Hawking's theories on wormholes."  The album's title and the song of the same name is a tribute Brann's sister, Skye Dailor, who committed suicide at the age of 14.  Profoundly complex and rather bizarre, Dailor describes the content of the concept as the following: "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."  (Whoa.)  Musically, the album is as complex as the lyrical tale, combining progressive rock/metal, doom metal, experimental metal, and groove metal.  Intricate instrumental passages and vocal harmonies abound.  The track list is as follows:




4."The Czar"
  • I. "Usurper"
  • II. "Escape"
  • III. "Martyr"
  • IV. "Spiral"  

5."Ghost of Karelia"  

6."Crack the Skye" (featuring guest vocalist Scott Kelly)

7."The Last Baron"  

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