By Nate Calvis, Contributor
Key Tracks: “Blue Walsh”, “Toes to Toes”
Not even a year since their last record, Emperor of Sand, Mastodon, a prominent force to be reckoned with in the progressive metal scene, releases another kick-ass masterpiece, Cold Dark Place. Coupling with the lyrically meaningful Emperor of Sand, the Atlanta rockstars throw themselves back into fans’ music libraries with a perfect mix of the band’s roots, a familiar tone and just the right amount of twists to create a wow factor. With Emperor of Sand pertaining to a heavier Mastodon-like format, Cold Dark Place focuses on the band’s experimental nature as different elements are incorporated into their slower-paced ballads that comprise the EP.
Formed with inspiration from bands like Black Sabbath, Neurosis and Thin Lizzy, Mastodon slowly changed their tone from similar sounds of their influences during their formation, slowly creeping farther and farther away with each new release. But 2017 brought their biggest jump yet, with both Mastodon releases bringing a new vocal sound, a clearer crunch of the instruments and a new era for the band as a whole. Emperor of Sand showcases new melodic guitar riffs and a softer edge to their tone while still understanding how to bring the heat.
In addition, Cold Dark Place features whole new genre influences ranging all the way to southern folk rock in the EP’s self-titled song. The song also does a wonderful job of bringing the exponentially upbeat “middle songs” back down to a dark, beautiful finish. Circling back to the EP’s introductory song, “North Side Star” leads the tracklist in with a soft-rock vibe that takes a sharp turn roughly halfway through to present a change of pace and a righteous funk element. “Toes to Toes”, the EP’s single, falls back to Mastodon’s roots more than any other song on the EP, but it adds a slower pace, which is similar to many songs on Emperor of Sand. “Blue Walsh”, which is arguably the EP’s most well-executed tack, inserts elements of the Bee Gees and incorporate it into a rock mix to create an amazing sound with a chorus that sounds like a softhearted Avenged Sevenfold song.
Along with the EP’s lyrics and messages, the musical composition is stellar and the structure is pristine. The EP’s first and last songs lead the album in on soft tones while the middle songs are formed into upbeat rhythmic contenders. The introduction of new genre composition is brand new for the band and was engineered perfectly for a smaller release.