In 2017 Mastodon are, in many ways, the best band they've ever been. Twenty years into their career, they released their strongest album in almost a decade, Emperor of Sand, back in March, and now they have followed it up with four songs that show the band operating at full creative capacity. New EP Cold Dark Place is a sheer masterpiece, an absolute must-hear for fans of the band and newcomers alike.
Older fans might miss the shouts and frenzied drums of the band's earlier work, but Mastodon have never sat still creatively for long. "Toes to Toes" treads familiar territory, with abrupt time signature changes and dense guitar layering. But where Cold Dark Place truly shines is on tracks like "Blue Walsh" and "North Side Star," to which comparisons to prog's great bands — Jethro Tull, King Crimson and Rush — wouldn't be wrong. Vocal harmonies shine through as the band drift in and out of focus, meandering down rabbit holes of fretwork and space-rock sound effects.
Cold Dark Place is frustratingly short, but given how soon it's been released after an album like Emperor of Sand, you can forgive Mastodon for teasing us — they've earned it. As it stands, Cold Dark Place is a showcase of the band Mastodon have been hinting at becoming since 2009's Crack the Skye. (Reprise)