The music of Mastodon has come a long way since their first album. Each new release has seen them become a little more commercial, a little more acceptable and the purist in my dislikes this. However, there is no denying, musically, each release is also slightly better than the last. With the exception of Crack the Skye, one of the best albums ever recorded and, their new EP – Cold Dark Place.
It’s four eclectic tracks that sound like numbers that didn’t quite make it onto previous albums. North Star sounds like it came from Leviathon, in fact, I had to go and have a listen and see if I wasn’t actually missing the point and it was there, or on a special edition or something. It’s got a sweet, clean vocal line and the noodling guitars you’d expect from Mastodon. Lyrically, it’s pretty dreary – about the end of the world not mattering and the countdown has begun.
Blue Walsh is reminiscent of some of the tracks on Crack the Skye, albeit with a newer vocal style (if I’m honest though, the vocals remind me of The Stone Roses). This song really does sound like newer Mastodon though, there’s a cracking (seewhatididthere?) bridge that has a bunch of the band singing “I waited to song, to watch it all leave” which sends shivers down my spine!
Toe to Toes has the classic Mastodon opener – twinkling acoustic guitar, then it stomps on your foot with a heavy guitar line. However, this track is probably the most commercial sounding track on the album. That’s not to say it’s a bad track – far from it – just the most accessible. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s got clapping and I can’t get the image of Brett Hinds, tattoo faced bearded motherfucker standing on staging clapping and singing. Just me? OK then. The lyrics, however, are as dense as they always are with this band, they need listening to a few times and unpacking to really get your head around what’s going on. It’s one of the things I love about Mastodon, that the lyrics aren’t just about the average bullshit (in fact, you should check out Leviathon after getting this EP, if you don’t have it already, it’s one of the best bits of music about a whale ever).
The final track, Cold Dark Place, is an epic monster. It begins in melancholic style (I think there’s a theramin in there) and Hinds sings about love the only way Mastodon can and, frankly, it’s profoundly heartbreaking. It’s probably one of my favourite Mastodon tracks at the moment. The whole EP is about a Hinds’ breakup (I’m not sure with who – he did propose to his girlfriend on stage one time though, so maybe her).
On the heels of this years Emporer of Sand (check the review here) this EP stands as a kind of solo project for Hinds that was recorded (as far as I can tell) during the Once More Around The Sun sessions. It’s very definitely a worthy addition to your Mastodon collection.