Mastodon
Cold Dark Place


3.5
great

Review

by Alex Carlson USER (83 Reviews)
September 23rd, 2017 | 217 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The reassurance that the skeptical fans needed, it's Mastodon's most startlingly adventurous release in years.

Being a Mastodon fan in 2017 is complicated. When a band that kicked down the doors of progressive metal, one that released some of the most daring LP’s of the 2000’s, starts sharing airwaves with bands like Foo Fighters and Papa Roach, you can’t help but be at least a little nervous. Because of this creative direction, the band’s 2017 LP Emperor of Sand was a controversial release. Some loved the classic rock-inspired tracks and interesting concept, others found it to be Mastodon spinning wheels. I admittedly was of the latter; Emperor of Sand was Mastodon doing what Mastodon does. The radio-friendliness made it apparent that the group had solidified a formula, one that they relied on far too much throughout the album.

But Cold Dark Place stands in an unusual spot for Mastodon. Recorded during the Once More ‘Round the Sun and Emperor of Sand sessions, it stands amongst the band’s most creatively tepid periods, but manages to outshine the band’s work as far back as 2011’s The Hunter. Cold Dark Place is one of Mastodon’s most experimental and curious releases, and a few lingering familiarities aside, it invigorates the band in ways that their most recent LP’s didn’t.

Most of the tracks on Cold Dark Place dive into the experimental sides of Mastodon’s discography, most notably the eerie Crack the Skye, which played around with mood as opposed to overt heaviness. For example, the opener “North Side Star” repeatedly shifts tones and tempos, reaching the same dynamics of lengthier tracks like “The Czar”, which is impressive for a song that stands at only six minutes. “Blue Walsh” moves from mid-tempo jamming with drummer Brann Dailor’s subdued crooning before moving to more energized territory in the track’s later act. “Toe to Toes” is easily the most interesting track on the EP, opening with revving, uplifting guitars and infectious clapping hand rhythms. Bassist Troy Sanders’ vocals soar and drift atop the guitars, but once guitarist Brent Hinds takes the mic, the brilliantly toned instrumentation harkens back to acts like Rush. It’s such a strange mood for the band to explore, and while it admittedly takes some time to get used to, “Toe to Toes” is one of the most uniquely sounding tracks that Mastodon has ever composed.

And while Mastodon does take a number of unique directions on Cold Dark Place, there are familiar elements, for better or worse. The title track is a “love it or hate it” song, sounding a bit too much like a typical Mastodon closer (think “The Sparrow” from The Hunter or “Jaguar God” from Emperor of Sand). It’s a pleasant-sounding track, but doesn’t reach the experimental heights of something like “Toe to Toes.” And ultimately, this isn’t a very heavy EP. If you’re looking for Mastodon kicking it to the curb with another “Blood and Thunder”, you won’t find it here. The closest we get to that is a brief passage in “Blue Walsh”, where Sanders goes back to his low, howling vocals as the tempo revs itself up.

But with all this in mind, Cold Dark Place is the reassurance that the skeptical fans needed. It’s not heavy at all, and has its share of undercooked moments, but this EP is the ace up Mastodon’s sleeve. It’s such an alien sound, but at the same time, feels comforting in its tumultuous moodiness. Cold Dark Place is a startlingly adventurous EP, one that opens so many doors for the band to pass through, and it’s a direction that I desperately hope the band will, even for just a moment, revisit as their career furthers.



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user ratings (255)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
PostMesmeric
September 23rd 2017


696 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haven't written a review in a while, so I thought I'd give this release some attention, while brushing up on writing reviews again. As you can guess, I think this EP is better than Emperor of Sand.



Constructive criticism welcome.

bloc
September 23rd 2017


43555 Comments


Really liked this one, much better than EoS

Digging: Venenum - Trance of Death

tempest--
September 23rd 2017


20545 Comments


wow it's not hot garbage

Sabrutin
September 23rd 2017


4474 Comments


North Side Star is like a discog highlight

Digging: Necromandus - Necromandus

tempest--
September 23rd 2017


20545 Comments


t/t is fantastic too omg I actually like the band again :D

DominionMM1
September 23rd 2017


15005 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ep doesn't completely suck. it's actually downright listenable at times.

bravo mastodon on a job done.

polyrhythm
September 23rd 2017


1248 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

a cold, dark and very gentle place

Digging: Depeche Mode - Violator

MoosechriS
September 23rd 2017


6098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really liking the vibe on this.

RippingCorpse1986
September 23rd 2017


60 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Emperor of Sand was kind of a disappointment to me at first, but successive listens improved the experience. I'm not a big fan of EPs, but this looks interesting. I'll check it out these days.

Good review.

Digging: Shrapnel (UK) - Raised on Decay

Crysis
Emeritus
September 23rd 2017


17276 Comments


cover art is really, really nice

Digging: Kauan - Kaiho

kingdedethefifth
September 23rd 2017


3933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cold, dark artwork

osmark86
September 23rd 2017


5417 Comments


listening right now and really digging the funkiness of the first track. mastodon delivers yet again it would seem.

InFlamesWeThrash666
September 23rd 2017


6858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Very good EP

Digging: Darkthrone - Circle the Wagons

osmark86
September 23rd 2017


5417 Comments


coherency with rating points for you good sir

SteakByrnes
September 23rd 2017


4090 Comments


That album cover is pretty dope

Digging: Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas - Feeling of Unity

SIIMBOLIC
September 23rd 2017


755 Comments


listening to crack the skye all i can think is what happened??

sonictheplumber
September 23rd 2017


8478 Comments


Didn't they put out a record last week?

bloc
September 23rd 2017


43555 Comments


Album art looks like some melodic doom metal shit

Scoob
September 23rd 2017


1652 Comments


Is this better than emperor I thought it was pretty weak

MeatSalad
September 23rd 2017


17160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Somewhat

Digging: Talk Talk - Laughing Stock



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