Review Summary: Loma Prieta only takes 10 months to make an album that is in every way better than Last City.
Dark Mountain isn’t an album you can just forge an opinion on in one listen. On first listen for me, I was completely bored with the album, probably because I had such high expectations for it after their surprisingly amazing Last City. I say surprisingly amazing because before Last City, I was not really impressed with this band much at all. Most of their EPs before this, such as Our LP is your EP, was in a nutshell just a poor attempt at Ampere. The songs were jumpy and discordant, and the vocals were out of this world bad. Then out of nowhere, they release Last City, completely blowing everyone’s thought of whom they were and what they could do. Dark Mountain further expands on the progression that they started with Last City.
Dark Mountain begins with a brooding guitar line and jumps right into where they left off on Last City. The overall song writing of the band has improved since Last City, which is evident on the track “Vermillion River.” The song goes from a slow guitar line with constant drum fills looping to the song until about 40 seconds where the song picks up the speed and becomes a lot more straightforward. Along with the overall songwriting is the improvement of the guitar players, who still focus on playing Honeywell-esque riff-styled screamo, but there is bigger inclusion of cleaner guitars. With the bigger inclusion of cleaner guitar comes a more varied vocal style, and a creation of an album that sounds much more fuller due to their improved guitar work; and while the vocals have improved altogether (or maybe the production just makes them sound that
much better), the cleaner guitar passages bring along more spoken word vocals.
The best example of this is the ending acoustic passage of “Carelessness” into the spoken word and clean guitar of arguably the best song on the album, “Ghost Shadow.” From starting out with a beautiful melody of overlapping guitar lines and spoken words to a crescendo up into a flurry of impressive drumming and screams of the spoken word passage. The spoken word passage showcases probably the biggest improvement from Last City to Dark Mountain, the lyrical content. After finding some of the lyrics from Last City, I must say it made me value the album less, they were just that awful. On Dark Mountain it is obvious that Loma Prieta has picked their game on the lyrics, and as a band altogether is creating more thought out songs.
Clocking in at 15 minutes long, it’s almost sad that the album is this short. Released only 10 months after Last City, it’s impressive to see such an improvement in the band in that short of time. At first I thought this album was just a watered-down Last City, but after giving it many more listens, the album really shines through and surpasses Last City as Loma Prieta’s best album to date. They have picked up their game on every aspect of the album and even if it’s 7 minutes shorter then Last City, it’s still a nice progression to see in such a short time. I really hope that Loma Prieta takes a little bit more time on their next full length though, for if the jump they made from Last City to Dark Mountain was this noticeable, then their next album could possibly be something out of this world.