Black Mountain - In The Future
Retro Rock
10 songs (57:22)
Release year: 2008
Black Mountain, Jagjaguwar
Reviewed by Goat

There’s a small sub-genre of bands that exist in an uneasy limbo between Rock and the more mainstream-sounding Doom bands. The Sword is a good example, a fairly recent specimen that takes classic Sleep and gives it a modern sheen. Another example that I recently stumbled across through MySpace browsing is Black Mountain. Interestingly, the entire band works as either mental health or homeless care workers, and front a collective of musicians and artists called The Black Mountain Army. Although the Doom influence here is much, much more subtle and comes across as a distinct 70’s heaviness in the riffs, this is a clear example of a Rock band that is doing more than trying to emulate the latest Indie fad or sound like the Foo Fighters.

Clearly worshipping Classic Rock, sophomore album In the Future has a surprisingly Prog attitude. The first few moments of opening track Stormy High feature a mix of riffs and mellotron that The Doors would have been proud of. Mixed male and female vocals wail over the music, which isn’t at all afraid of going off into instrumental flourishes, whilst the drummer keeps a consistent and almost militaristic pace, with plenty of fills to keep the technically minded listening. It goes without saying that this is damn catchy, the band being capable of writing good tunes, which is rarer than you’d think in the modern Rock world.

Following track Angels is driven by near-orchestral keyboards, like much of the album emphasising vocals over guitars. The eight-minute-plus Tyrants opens at a groovier pace, before shifting into a crawling epic. Although tracks such as Wucan suggest an Indie heart beats at the base of this band, the songs are good enough for these moments to be another string in Black Mountain’s bow rather than a weakness. That track especially has a wonderfully psychedelic section that erases any doubts you may have about the band’s worthiness.

There are plenty of moments, such as the opening of Queens Will Play, which seasoned music fans will no doubt find very familiar, although it’s worth pointing out that Black Mountain is highly capable of putting all its retro elements together into a convincing whole. Just as you’re growing tired of a song’s vocal elements, along comes an instrumental trill to keep you listening. As for those that will doubtless attack the band for not being Metal enough, well, you can’t really call a band with a sixteen-minute song mainstream, and the track in question, Bright Lights, soon escalates into perhaps the most rocking song on the album before spacing out into rise-and-fall Drone, a constant organ providing the backdrop for a psychedelic masterpiece that Hawkwind would have trouble replicating. The Drone continues in following song Night Walks, led by female vocalist Amber’s ethereal voice, and it’s a highly effective way to end the album, hinting at a future that will hopefully take the Progressive sound even further.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a limited edition of the album that came with a bonus CD titled Future Sounds containing three more songs, all of which are superb. There’s not a weak track anywhere in sight on the entire release, which is astounding considering how few bands manage this in these times when the downloading fraternity barely pay attention to a band’s good songs...

Ultimately, true Doomheads may well dismiss the band out of hand, especially when I reveal that one of the songs on this album (Stay Free) found its way onto Spiderman 3’s soundtrack, but if you’re not altogether disgusted by the mainstream end of the leftfield, then this is well worth a shot. Those that like their Rock laid back and living in the past will love Black Mountain.

Killing Songs :
Stormy High, Tyrants, Wucan, Bright Lights, Night Walks
Goat quoted 83 / 100
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