on January 22, 2008
Black Mountain - the most public face of the Vancouver-based "Army" of the same name, a collective of likeminded musicians with amps set to nerve-stun levels and guitars possessed by wailing blues ghouls - have been busy since the release of their self-titled debut in 2005.
Following the sleeper success of their debut "Black Mountain" - which saw them invited to support Coldplay on a North American arena tour - the band apparently cloistered themselves in the studio to record for 14 days straight, barely pausing to eat or see daylight.
The second album from the Canadian prog band continues to take the basic musical building blocks of duelling guitars and pounding drums to construct a rock monster.
This is a CD alive with tales of witches, demons, sun cults, and one 17-minute song, "Bright Lights", whose sole lyrics warn us of impending war, destruction and darkness.
Stephen McBean and his buddies don't hold back, with "Tyrants" - a 1970s metal moan against anonymous bad men - stretching over eight minutes in a face-shredding three-part epic, while "Bright Lights" - with its ambitious but unwieldy mixture of electroacoustic free noise and clumping rock grooves - clocks in at twice that.
Amber Weber's vocals add depth to the riffmungus workouts, ranging from Thin Lizzy-style repetition to more contemplative passages in "Wucan".
Through ragingly volatile highs and purposely sluggish lows - more ups than downs, literally and critically - Black Mountain surely show off their greatest recording achievement to date here.
It's captivating, cosmic stuff. The band (who all still hold down day jobs as mental healthcare and drug rehabilitation workers) switch between swamp and space with admirable grace, held together by singer Amber Webber's remarkably full-lunged vocals and Stephen McBean's bleak vision of the world.
Standouts : "Stormy High" and "Stay Free".
on July 20, 2009
I had the recent fortune of happening upon Black Mountain at a local music festival on one of the smaller stages. My friend and I wandered the grounds hoping to find a band worthy of parking ourselves for the remainder of the evening. After quickly leaving a really boring Lynyrd Skynyrd on the main stage, we stumbled upon Black Mountain. We were instantly captivated.
I'm very selective when it comes to psychedelic music. It is often very naive and frankly, plain silly. I'm also generally against really long songs. They tend to be self-indulgent and boring. Not Black Mountain. This is highly creative psychedelic rock that remains captivating whether rocking out or mellowing out. It is rooted in the past but all the while looking to the future. It's well beyond the label of revivalist. The interplay between McBean's vocals and Webber's vocals and the addition of organ and 70's style keyboard sounds really help to create a hazy atmosphere amidst a throbbing rhythm section and often hard-edged but ear-tingling guitar.
At one point a band member thanked the crowd for seeing them instead of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I say thanks for giving me a far superior option and treating me to one of the better live shows I've seen in a long time. Indeed, now I have a new band to add to my music collection.