Review Summary: Mount Crushmore is a nasty, low-registered, swingy, cannabaean ball of rage, and it’s the most fun my neck has had in a while.
Now I’m a young adult in my early-mid twenties, I’ve finally moved on from educational facilities and I’ve been kicked, still soft and squidgy, into the ‘real world’, I’ve started to realise how tricky it can be as an adult to just get *** DONE. Wanna meet up with some cross-country friends" Yeah, we might be able to make that happen sometime in the next 12 months. Need to get to the bank" Choice between eating and banking my friend, cos you can bet your arse they’re not open any other time. Even so, 10 years is a long time to get around to doing anything. Leadingly, in the case of Baltimore-based stoner metal quintet Asthma Castle, a whole ten years passed between 2009’s Jesus, Mary and Broseph
EP and their current offering, Mount Crushmore
. Sure, they lost a rhythm section shortly after the EP’s release but, after gaining Misery Index/Pig Destroyer drummer Adam Jarvis and bassist Bill Mountain (who for his paucity of metal experience makes up by having arguably the best bassist name conceivable), it’s still taken 8 years to lay this thing down.
It would appear, though, that the time they’ve been able to spend together has been time very well spent. At this stage in stoner metal’s trajectory it’s almost always a complete waste of time to peel back the defining layers, and sure enough, someone with a modest understanding of its components (arse-hammering bass, blues-dashed riffs and vocals a halfway house between Ozzy Osborne and Acid Bath’s Dax Riggs) aren’t going to find much pushing the stoner/sludge mould here. What’s so invigorating about Mount Crushmore
is the aggression
which exudes itself from every one of its skunky pores. The opening track ‘The Incline of Western Civilisation’ barrels along with the resolve of a traction engine, the vocalist’s impassioned roars barely stopping short of shrieks at its machine-gun climax – and frankly, this is pretty par for the course over the next 5 tracks. Even when the pace does drop, such as in the midsection of ‘Here Come the Black Ship’ and the doom-laden ‘Methlehem’, there remains the bristling, anxious feeling of imminent explosion, like it’s only one crash cymbal away from all hell breaking loose again. Frankly, it’s fitting that it ends the way it does. The bitumen swing of closer ‘The Book of Duderonomy’, upset by drum breaks and didgeridoo burbles, is so delightfully pissed that it has to come back for one final shot, its false ending preceding the album’s last dose of neck-snapping chugs.
There is the odd moment of (slight) relief brought forward. Mount Crushmore
’s title track slots in a rare slice of clean-voiced catchiness with a chorus that sounds lifted from an early Mastodon jam, the spectre of Troy Sanders very much making himself known in its drawling, warbled delivery. Similarly, the lead runs permeating much of the spectacularly named ‘Brazilian Catbox Incident’ offer a delightful nod to the genre’s heavy metal roots. However, it’d be a lie to now say ‘the album has a more sensitive, vulnerable side’, because really, it just doesn’t. Mount Crushmore
is a nasty, low-registered, swingy, cannabaean ball of rage, and it’s the most fun my neck has had in a while.