- Black Mountain
- Stoner rock/Psyrock/Prog rock
Alright, I’ve reviewed a heap of stoner doom/metal/rock this month but none of them have started with this much groove and old heavy metal and hard rock sensibilities. It’s a very different beast from my usual review in that it sounds like it has mainstream potential and uses poppy hooks. Most of what I’ve been listening to it is the kind of dark and heavy shit that can bury your heart so it’s a nice surprise to have a new stoner release that sounds quite positive and proggy. Thanks heaps to Vinyltown – Instagram – for the rec, can’t wait for that Vinyl podcast to drop.
It’s a big sound but it’s not the fuzz and it’s not the gain. It’s motherfucking synth! Love that, it always adds so much to certain styles of sound and can absolutely create an identity for a band. These synth lines are NICE, they come over the music like a preacher preaching to the choir that is the other instruments. There’s a lot of similarity to stoner doom in the heavier moments and with the use of some longer passages. There’s the clean vocals inspired by Pink Floyd, which is where so much of the clean stoner doom vocal inspiration comes from. But ultimately this is more prog rock/psyrock than any release I’ve done this year. The guitars do the best they can to keep it on the doom edge throughout but there’s just so much artistry here and use of prog and rock formula that it will always sit between so many genres without being entirely embraced by one singular… except for stoners. We love music across multiple genres to the point where the simple term stoner is a larger genre without rules.
I adore the acoustic moments because I feel like I haven’t heard that all year. Acoustic is something I’ve played for 15 years and it spurred on my love for heavy bands like Opeth who feature acoustic heavily (12 string to boot). So Black Mountain have treated me here both acoustic and synth. No matter how they use the elements across the record, there’s never a loss of their signature sound. It all feels like the same album even when the tracks are distinct. The most notable difference to me between the songs is the vocals which on most of the tracks are great, as well as the female guest vocals, but there is a track or two where he went for too much vocal distortion I just didn’t enjoy the resulting sound of that. There is always a level of distortion but typically it’s closer to what Floyd or Zep used to did, still having that clarity.
Alright, not cool, the track High Rise has these small moments of people whispering or talking or something under the music that made me look around thinking someone was trying to get my attention, you spooked me ya bastards. Great track though, it lets the lyrics shine through nicely, again the female vocals on this track are great. That vocalist is Rachel Fannan – Instagram – A really cool collaborator and fellow poet.
The album art is pretty awesome, a bit different from stuff I normally do that’s closer to elaborate illustrations. This is a pretty sweet digital collage kind of work done by Black Mountain’s very own keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt. I don’t know why but it just fits their sound. I guess I can imagine their tunes traveling across the waves of the ocean and into unexplored lands.
Overall, not just as a fan of stoner music but as someone with eclectic taste across the board (not represented in my reviews, check out About Me), it’s a solid piece of music with great presentation and incorporation of old styles, occasionally though it does sound too much like Pink Floyd, even lyrically during some tracks. The collab with Rachel was such a smart idea because it really made it pop and ultimately gave it the score of 9 instead of 8.something.