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Black Mountain - In the Future CD (album) cover


Black Mountain


Crossover Prog

3.46 | 56 ratings

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3 stars In The Future (2008) is the second album by Canadian 5-piece psychedelic/hard rock band Black Mountain. The album is a 10-song set containing some grindingly heavy, and at times complex, songs. In addition to the plentiful guitar riffs there's a shed-load of classic keyboards here, with two of the band credited with playing the Mellotron. By the way, three members of the band work for the Insite organisation, which provides a safe injection location for people with drug and mental health problems in Vancouver. So, respect to them for that.

The first track, Stormy High, consists of a pulverizing rhythm and an unforgettable Tony Iommi-inspired guitar riff. This in fact received the Bucky Award for 'Best Hook of 2008' from CBC Radio 3. With all due respect to the good people of Canada, the significance of this award is lost on a guy from Scotland (well, it's lost on me anyway) but I guess it's a nice achievement. It is definitely a great riff though. Angels is altogether more laid back, although the drums are still pretty loud, and there's some nice Mellotron (strings and flute) here. Black Mountain has drawn comparisons with Jefferson Airplane, I suppose in part due to the combination of male and female vocals. I don't know the Jefferson's well enough to comment on that (something I'll have to rectify!), but I wasn't initially impressed with some of the lethargic, stoned-out vocals on this. However I'm getting to like them the more I listen, and they do suit the music surprisingly well. Track 3, Tyrants, is the first of the more complex pieces on the album. It begins with thunderous bass/drums and ominous- sounding Mellotron that essay in subdued vocal and acoustic sections. The powerhouse drumming then returns along with some blistering guitar work from Stephen McBean (with that name, he must surely be Scottish!) and finally a reprise of the acoustic section. Darn it's good.

The near raga Wucan features synthesizer and Mellotron against a trance-like rhythm, with guitar flaring up intermittently. Stay Free is a largely acoustic ballad that was featured in the Spiderman III soundtrack. Female vocalist Amber Webber sings alone on a couple of songs, the first of these being Queens Will Play. This song also contains more guitar in the style of Tony Iommi, this time sounding subdued but edgy. The underlying tension is finally released in the closing few seconds of the track once the drums are let loose. Evil Ways (not the Santana song) features more forceful drumming and guitar soloing but is my least favourite track, while the brief Wild Wind is a sing-along ballad featuring fuzzed-out guitar. That brings us to the centrepiece of the album, the near 17-minutes Bright Lights. Back in the day, a track this length would have been exceptional whereas nowadays it's hardly worthy of note. Bright Lights is densely structured with extended instrumental excursions involving bruising bass and snarling guitar... actually, I'm not going to try to navigate the reader through every twist and turn of this song. My suggestion would be for the reader to just buy the album and listen for them self. Night Walks is the final track and the second to feature Amber Webber going solo. It's an ambient and reassuring way to finish the album.

I haven't heard Black Mountain's debut as yet, so I can't comment on how the band has progressed. However from the evidence of this, the notoriously 'difficult' sophomore album, they're definitely heading in the right direction. This is somewhere between good and excellent, so I'll give it 3 stars.

seventhsojourn | 3/5 |


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