Mastodon have cemented themselves as a key pillar of metal music over the last fifteen years. If anything could confirm such a lofty statement, it was their forward-thinking seventh studio album Empire of Sand, which arrived earlier in the year.
After a record which could perhaps come to define the band for its strength and creativity, it comes as surprise that they’ve dropped a four track EP so soon after. Although looks can certainly be deceiving, because Cold Dark Place is in itself another sprawling epic that they’ve ploughed serious thought into.
Opener “North Side Star” shows an emotional and expansive side to the band that has perhaps been masked by outright riffs in recent years. The instrumentation is weepy and saddening but it’s pulled off on an epic scale as the guitars plunge into math-rock territory. “Blue Walsh” then moves things on aptly with a spirited and frankly titanic vocal coming to the forefront. If there’s a masterpiece amongst these four songs, then it’s certainly the closing title-track which is cloaked in a sorrow that’s breathtakingly sinister.
This is a record which likes to hurls surprises and you’re never entirely sure which direction they’re going to turn next. It’s a true testament to the band that they’re still not happy to dwell in a certain style after all these years. Instead the four-piece strike a fine balance between elements of prog, doom and straight down the line metal at times.
Although one thing Mastodon can be credited for is that they’re never happy to simply dabble, instead they truly throw themselves into everything they do. The magnifying glass is on everything with this release, and it results in something distinguished and quite frankly mammoth.