The latest release from Mastodon is short, punchy and full of enjoyable moments. It feels somewhat like a space filler – something to keep the fans eagerly wanting more whilst the guys are on tour. It acts as a fantastic stopgap to follow up their latest full length LP Emperor of Sand and what’s hopefully going to come.
Album Title: Cold Dark Place
Genre: Progressive Rock
Released on 22nd of September (with a follow up limited edition 10-inch vinyl to be released on the 27th of October) this enjoyable EP is nothing new from Mastodon. I mean that in the sense that it’s consistently good from start to finish and that it’s made up of tracks from previous recording sessions. Three of the tracks were recorded during the bands 2014 Once More ‘Round the Sun sessions and ‘Toe to Toes’ being recorded during the 2017 Emperor of Sand sessions.
The opening track ‘North Side Star’ kicks the EP off with a creeping eeriness that later progresses into a more driven rock sound. The vocals have a hint of echo and reverb that sort of float between the guitars. The rhythm section slowly builds the track up, eventually creating a driving sense of urgency that leads to a scorching solo for the outro.
The reverberating vocals continue into ‘Blue Walsh’, a track with a surprisingly suave groove. It’s still very much a punchy rock song but there’s a swagger created between the guitar and drums during the verses. In terms of big moments this song is full of them. I love how they keep everything steady, almost building up energy to burst in key moments of the song. Thunderous rolls and crashes mixed with skittish blistering guitar licks.
“Toe to Toes”, probably my favourite on the EP, is a dizzying number that blends a couple of time signatures and gradual build up (because it’s that easy) and is perhaps the lightest track on here. The instrumentation, despite creating heavy bridges, is actually brighter than on the other tracks. The utilisation of an acoustic guitar prevents the track from being too muddied and dark. It’s an interesting addition as it offers a comparative insight between the two recording sessions of 2014/2017.
The title track and last track of the EP, ‘Cold Dark Place’, is dark and creeping. It finishes the record off in the same way that it started. It’s a steady rocker and I can kind of see why it was dropped from the final cut of Once More ‘Round the Sun, as if it was to be on there I get the impression it may have been considered somewhat an album filler. That being said, the solo that ends the song is a biggun.
It’s a very good EP and I think any fan of Mastodon should be happy with it, the only problem I have with it is that it leaves you wanting more, even if it’s another EP of off-cuts from recording sessions gone by.