Not being overly familiar with Mastodon’s previous offerings, upon first listening to their new EP, Cold Dark Place, my initial thoughts were this must be a covers EP, as the material seemed to sit more within the rock genre than what I had expected from such a renowned act, feeling more familiar in both sound and style than the ground breaking music I had anticipated.
That said, Cold Dark Place is thoroughly enjoyable, exuding the sentiment hinted at in its title, as it sets fans out on an aurally dark excursion, both musically and lyrically. North Side Star is the opener and is suitably gloomy for the first half, with a nice change in sound pace hitting half way through. This is the first of a few moments where, while awash with darkness, the emotion is at times also challenged by the energy of the music. A change which occurs frequently on the track Blue Wash, the highlight of this release.
The clap along intro to Toe To Toes is lighter still, however incorporating time signature changes throughout keeps it fresh and slightly off kilter, confusing any feel good sensibility the track may initially try to pervade.
Title track Cold Dark Place moves in an almost dark, dirge-like nature as expected. A soaring guitar solo hits just before the 5 minute mark which threatens to elevate the song from this state, however it’s kept perfectly grounded and dark by the relentless rhythm section.
Review by Peter Lanyon