Mastodon, American heavy metal outfit from Atlanta, Georgia, have released somewhat of an unexpected EP entitled Cold Dark Place following up their release of Emperor of Sand from earlier on this year. If you were wanting to experience the ballsy, heavy tones that Mastodon have become so notorious for then this isn’t going to be the release for you. This EP release tends to lean heavily on the rock side of things, in comparison to Emperor of Sand, or even Once More ‘Round The Sun for that matter, considering these tracks that have made the EP were the ‘left overs’ from the band’s fore mentioned earlier releases. One could even argue this is more of an ‘art-style compilation’ that your traditional Mastodon experience, but it still isn’t one to turn your nose up at!
Mastodon is composed of band members Troy Sanders (bass/vocals), Brent Hinds (guitar/vocals), Bill Kelliher (secondary guitar/vocals), and Brann Dailor (drums/vocals). All band members (minus Kelliher) perform vocals in studio, and all perform vocals at live shows.
The EP opens with ‘North Side Star’, an acoustically strummed track which displays auras of tranquillity. The vocals of the track are other-worldly, and the instrumentals backing them transcend the track as a whole to an entire new level. As the song progresses we are welcomed with a groove induced rock riff that hits the sweet spot with utmost precision. Might not be what you’re used to if you’re a Mastodon fan, but I tell you what, it’s a great listen regardless!
‘Blue Walsh’ opens up in a similar fashion to ‘North Side Star’, with the likened laid-back vibes seguing from one track to another. Although it starts off relatively ‘slow’, compared to Mastodon’s known tempo, the track picks up and ends a little harder than you’d anticipate. Vocally, you could just close your eyes throughout this entire EP and allow their smoothness to drift you away to another plane. Superb! Instrumentally solid, as we’ve come to expect from Mastodon over the years. Although this is somewhat ‘experimental’, it’s absolutely brilliant.
Sanders’ vocals transcend in ‘Toes to Toes’, a track that is somewhat uplifting from beginning to end. Instrumentally it’s the most upbeat Mastodon have been throughout the EP, combining that with Sanders’ vocals and background clapping make this one of the stronger tracks of the EP. The track closes out with a brilliant guitar solo from Hinds. Take a bow, sir!
The EP rounds itself out with the title track ‘Cold Dark Place’, seeing them tread familiar waters that they explored within Once More ‘Round the Sun. The atmosphere the instrumentals paint is somewhat ‘spacey’, which is a brilliant way to tie the track to familiar Mastodon style sounds. The ending of this track is out of this world (no pun intended), with a face-melting guitar solo experience that you do not want to miss out on!
Overall, Cold Dark Place is an experiment that turned out to be better than first anticipated. If you’re a long time Mastodon fan, you’re going to be missing the drop-A tuned tracks, without a doubt, but even the most hardcore of fans would appreciate what’s been delivered here. If this is your first experience with Mastodon, go check them out, because some of the works they’ve produced are mind blowing!