Cold Dark Place

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Reviews Albums. Lives. Merch. -

At­lanta’s metal voy­agers re­trieve some gems from the cut­ting-room floor

When Word first spread of a new Mastodon re­lease, the im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion was sur­prise. Af­ter all, al­bum-of-theyear can­di­date Em­peror Of Sand was re­leased just six months prior, and it’s un­usual for a band – even one who writes con­cept records about whales and cancer – to change course mid­stream. Things be­came clearer when it was re­vealed that this 21-minute EP fea­tured four left­overs from the Em­peror… and Once More ’Round The Sun ses­sions, but even if the band were wise to trim them be­cause they didn’t fit in at the time, it doesn’t mean they fit well to­gether now – a com­mon prob­lem with b-sides col­lec­tions.

Still, that’s not to say th­ese songs are throw­aways, as all show in one way or an­other that, un­like their name­sake, Mastodon con­tinue to evolve. At first, the lush and melan­cholic North Side Star sounds like a song from a David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino film, but it even­tu­ally shapeshifts to re­veal a dance­able groove and a blaz­ing solo. Its clos­est si­b­ling here is the hyp­notic ti­tle track, an ex­per­i­men­tal and at­mo­spheric slice of pedal steel noir that crescen­dos de­lib­er­ately to­ward a gui­tar-drenched pay­off. Blue Walsh, mean­while, is a hazy, midtempo prog jam with a trippy riff, breakup-in­spired lyrics (‘You dis­ap­peared into the sea’) and a Torche-like burst of fuzzy power-pop near the end. The EP’s raison d’être, how­ever, is the up­lift­ing Toe To Toes, a song that’s ar­guably more com­pelling than the other ma­te­rial from the Em­peror… ses­sions. With a vo­cal melody rem­i­nis­cent of a bearded, tat­tooed guy chan­nelling U2 or Peter Gabriel, the track is nei­ther cold nor dark, and hope­fully a har­bin­ger of things to come.


Mastodon: lesser bands can only dream of pro­duc­ing stuff as great as their left­overs

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