Review Summary: Not to be passed off as another rock-revivalist…
During a wave of acts attempting to recreate the early “metal” crunch of band’s like (and mainly) Black Sabbath
) it’s pretty easy – even as an avid fan of the aforementioned band – to get downright sick of the myriad of posers and little-talent wonders that briefly raise their heads to be heard, before being pushed back into obscurity. A good way to overcome this hurdle is to mix in other elements of the era you’re trying to recreate rather than simply focusing on Iommi and fuzzy distortion. Using this simple formula, Canadian neo-psychedelic act Black Mountain
has developed two stand-up albums and a strong, quickly emerging fanbase.
While this band has a great friendship with fuzzy distortion and a bit of a passion for doom-riff tangents (see Don’t Run Our Hearts Around
), there is more within the mix to be heard. Perhaps it’s almost that they turn it inside out, leaving the faux-crunch as a background feature. The band is also clearly great fans of the work of certain progressive bands, leaning towards a more psychedelic-based, sometimes ambient approach. This gives the music a pretty experimental feel, raising the compositions well above the basic rock band moniker. The album’s opener itself should lead listeners to believe they’re in for more than they probably expected to hear. Modern Music
sounds like a cross between a 60’s tune, some Zappa-esc effects and a little School House Rock melody thrown in there. Despite the somewhat comical beat created here, it becomes evident early that there are some adventurous musicians at work here, and that’s generally a good sign. The utilisation of the female and male vocals is another bonus that helps propel the tone of the music beyond the band’s peers. Adding some synths and keys doesn’t hurt at all, either.
Even when a track is built on the foundations of a classic rock-revival riff, Black Mountain rarely stays on path, constantly wandering into varying musical horizons. The sounds of the 60’s come back in full-force on the lumbering Druganaut
and the almost endearingly tone-deaf No Satisfaction
. The band is good at going up and down the decades from this point, leaping seamlessly back into the 70’s metal prototype all the way to a 90’s jam band (Set Us Free
Atmospherically, there is a pretty spacey vibe to the record, paralleling the usually free-flowing nature of it. I mean, there are definitely periods of slow-strummed guitars and an overall ambient feeling, but these are interjected by a fleeting upbeat nature. This positive vibe rears its head throughout the album, playing a perfect counterpoint to all the gloomy distortion – sort of like putting on a smile while being blunted a little. This interplay is probably the most transfixing thing about their music, with the bonus capability of pleasing an array of music lovers. Black Mountain
is a modern rock for those who are tired of the stagnating recreation pool (okay, that does sound a little disgusting). Like those robots you’ve seen, there’s more than meets the eye with this band, and you’d be doing yourself a great injustice by passing them by.
Though I find this CD works best as a whole product and should be listened to in this manner, it isn’t a concept album and that isn’t a necessity. I whole-heartedly recommend checking out this album in its entirety to fans of progressive, rock, psychedelic, and even avant-garde or ambient music. If you do need a little taste before hand though, I guess I’d go with these…
Don’t Run Our Hearts Around
Set Us Free