Saturday, 11 September 2010

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart

Released September 13

Jagjaguwar Records

With Black Mountain’s first two albums you could be forgiven for thinking that this Canadian band are from another time with their bohemian stylings and heavily fuzzed rock n roll.

The psychedelic stoners seem to have neatened themselves up though and while their self titled debut and 2008’s follow up ‘In The Future’ were prone to long, warped instrumentals and rather indulged guitar solos ‘Wilderness Heart’ doesn’t contain the same seven minute trips and mind bending druganauts that have become associated with the band.

That said, it’s still in an equal league and possesses the same credentials of ‘Black Mountain’ and ‘In The Future’ by keeping the same weighty retro fuzz and harmonic folk moments that epitomise what Black Mountain are all about, it’s just been cleaned up and now holds a noticeable mainstream glint.

Leading single ‘Old Fangs’ chugs with spaced synth and thunderous guitars with the dual vocals of Stephen McBean and Amber Webber coercing you into a darker world while opener ‘Hair Song’ displays the rock and pop sensibilities of decades gone by.

The noise relents for ‘Buried By The Blues’ and ‘Radiant Hearts’ as McBean and Webber together utter: “The hardest truth to believe that all is worth and all that is gained could never replace the most beautiful things that brought you so close to my heart,” as ‘Rollercoaster’ skips back to their more schizophrenic roots and scatty psychedelic moments while ‘Let Spirits Ride’ is a cocktail of red eyes, heavy rock and rats heads.

It’s always a tricky one with Black Mountain. While they’re likeable and unquestionably good at what they do, the influences that come with their territory are still ever apparent and dominate the shape of their sound making none of this feel entirely new.

In their defence, they’re not just borrowing from the characters that wrote rock folk lore and ‘Wilderness Heart’ exhibits smatterings of folk, metal and blues that gel a well rounded album of ballads and blistering assaults together.


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