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BLACK MOUNTAIN

Crossover Prog • Canada


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Black Mountain biography
Canadian outfit BLACK MOUNTAIN was formed in 2004 by Stephen McBean (vocals, guitar), Amber Webber (vocals), Jeremy Schmidt (keyboards), Matthew Camirand (bass) and Joshua Wells (drums). While legend has it that they have come out of a hippie-inspired community knowns as Black Mountain Army, the reality is that this is more of a loosely connected network of friends and aquaintances. Perhaps tighter knit than many others, but still pretty far from the communes of the 60's.

Three of the band's members work for an organization handling basic living requirements for drug addicts, chronically poor and mentally ill people, which has given them as well as the band a somewhat different point of view on certain topics compared to many others.

As far as their musical ventures go, their first creative output was the EP Druganaut issued in 2004, followed by their full length debut album Black Mountain in 2005. In 2007 the inclusion of their song Stay Free for the soundtrack of the movie Spiderman 3 raised their public profile considerably, and they also issued the EP Bastards of Light the same year, initially as a tour only 12 EP.

In 2008 their sophomore full length effort In the Future followed.

Black Mountain official website

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IVIV
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Black Mountain (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) 2xCDBlack Mountain (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) 2xCD
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Wilderness HeartWilderness Heart
Jagjaguwar 2010
Audio CD$6.07
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IV (2xLP)IV (2xLP)
Jagjaguwar 2016
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In the Future [Vinyl]In the Future [Vinyl]
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BLACK MOUNTAIN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BLACK MOUNTAIN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.85 | 17 ratings
Black Mountain
2005
3.46 | 43 ratings
In the Future
2008
3.24 | 21 ratings
Wilderness Heart
2010
2.56 | 9 ratings
Year Zero: The Original Soundtrack
2012
3.90 | 20 ratings
IV
2016

BLACK MOUNTAIN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BLACK MOUNTAIN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BLACK MOUNTAIN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BLACK MOUNTAIN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Druganaut
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Bastards of Light
2007

BLACK MOUNTAIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 IV by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.90 | 20 ratings

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IV
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by Meltdowner
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars "For those concerned: There is both guitar and synthesizer on this album" can be read in the gatefold of Black Mountain's fourth album, their first in six years. It sure has a lot of keyboards (mainly Moog, Mellotron and Hammond), but I think there's a really good balance and cooperation between keyboards and guitars.

The album has a very atmospheric 70's Space Rock sound, but also maintains some of the Pop Rock approach that was present on their previous works. It contains slow-building laidback spacey tracks ("Mothers of the Sun", "Space to Bakersfield"), radio-friendly rocker songs ("Florian Saucer Attack", "Defector", "Constelations") , acoustic ballads ("Line Them All Up", "Cemetery Breeding", "Crucify Me") and more cosmic/industrial Electronic based songs ("You Can Dream", "(Over and Over) The Chain". These two especially remind me of Jeremy Schmidt's excellent solo project, Sinoia Caves).

All these tracks have in common (and are held together by) a gloomy mood, which matches perfectly with Amber Webber's vocals. Bonus points to the energic and meditative rhythmic section, the cool psychedelic guitars and the very nice vocal harmonies.

It's a very enjoyable and diverse album with a really good production and a weirdly memorable cover that looks great on vinyl.

4 stars.

 In the Future by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.46 | 43 ratings

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In the Future
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Black Mountain's "In the Future" is the place to go if you are looking for a more recent brand of 70's stoner rock. This is a combination of Jefferson Airplane and Deep Purple with shades of Led Zeppelin and grungy style rock that sticks to it's bluesy roots. This is music along the same lines as White Stripes/Jack White and Band of Skulls, but with more progressive leanings similar to Bigelf. Yet, it is not a copy of any of those bands, it is original enough to be it's own style. The feel is a little dark for the most part, and like I said, it remains true to it's blues roots, so it is mostly a slower paced rock. The guitar hooks are authentic and believable, the vocals are in the stoner style. This is great stuff.

This album really develops the sound that Black Mountain was striving for in their debut album, and the band really hits their mark on this album. There is the singable track "Angels", the dark sounds of "Wuccan", the amazing epic-ness of "Bright Lights" which contains a lot of progressive sound and a gigantic organ and guitar combination of soloing that will convince you that you are listening to a real rock band of the 70's, but with an alternative edge. There is the beautiful album closer which features Amber's lovely vocals almost acapella with minimalistic droning organ sounds which is later joined by beautiful harmonics. This is music that will satisfy your hunger for the stoner sound of the early 70s.

It's pretty basic progressive music, it's nothing really fancy or groundbreaking. The most progressive track is the 16 minute "Bright Lights", which actually drags for the first 4 minutes but erupts into retro bliss after that point, and even has a nice space rock sound in the middle instrumental bridge, before the organ and guitar interplay on the last part of the track. The entire album is quite enjoyable however and all of the track contain some very convincing sounds. Also, since there are 3 lead singers in the band, you definitely get a nice variation in the music from one track to the other.

The deluxe edition of this album contains 3 more additional tracks that follow the same trend, and each track could have easily fit comfortably on the regular album. "Thirteen Walls" has a folky sound with guitar that sounds almost like a sitar. This is a definite winner of a track with Amber's voice wailing spookily behind Stephen's main vocals before she joins him in harmony. After that, it breaks into an amazing guitar solo that will leave you breathless. This song alone is worth searching for the deluxe version.

Even though there is nothing groundbreaking on the album, it is still excellent enough to warrant 4 stars. This is definitely a band that was born too late, and I believe they would have been legends if they were around when this music was the popular sound of the day. This is also an album I return to many times when I'm in the mood for something "new" with that "old" sound. These guys should be as famous as the White siblings, but they have been passed over by the public for some reason. Maybe it is a little too retro for some tastes, but I love it. Highly recommended for those looking for new music with the sound of the classics from the 70s. Great stuff.

 Year Zero: The Original Soundtrack by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2012
2.56 | 9 ratings

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Year Zero: The Original Soundtrack
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by 201101454

2 stars The first thing anyone who has listened to this band before may notice is that there are only five new tracks present on this 2012 release. Rock bands who have done soundtracks in the past have tended to use mostly new material with the idea of releasing the final result as a studio album as well (case in point, Pink Floyd's 'More' and 'Obscured by Clouds'). The new material here is as strong as any from the Vancouver based psychedelic collective. The recycled tracks also tend to be edits of their original form. For example, 'Bright lights' is brought down to 13 minutes from the original 17. This doesn't take anything away from the song however, which is good as it's one of their best to date. The rest of the music is what you'd expect from the band. There is plenty of heavy guitar work mixed in with the vintage keyboards and heavy drums. For me, as a keyboardist myself, Jimmy Schmidt is the standout performer on the album. His use of a lot of what are now classic keyboard sounds add a vintage sounding touch to the overall sound of the band. He also manages to give the keyboards something of a modern edge which is hard to put to explain in words so I'll just say go listen to it. The other stand out performer for me is Amber Webber. Whether she is taking the lead vocal role or providing a harmony, she manages to transport the listener spaceward. Her voice echoes out over the thunderous guitars and keyboards throughout the whole album. As with all their releases, the guitar work is of a pretty standard psychedelic affair. This is not a bad thing however as its central to their sound. So, with all that praise given, why the low rating? Well by the end of the album, I was left with a pretty strong feeling of d'j' vu. Whilst the new stuff is good, the old stuff makes one question the point in purchasing the album. If you're a fan of the band then get this, if only for the new material. If you are yet to discover Black Mountain, I would recommend an earlier release ('In the Future' perhaps).
 In the Future by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.46 | 43 ratings

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In the Future
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the 21st century's prime retro-prog movers, Canadian outfit Black Mountain have served up a trio of excellent progressive-and-classic rock aligned albums since their 2005 debut, blending the fuzzy aggression of Sabbath, the cosmic ambience of Floyd, occasional nods to hard-riffin' metal, retro-psych flourishes and a smattering of folksy charm with a slick, sharp and powerful contemporary edge. Of the three it is perhaps 2008's 'In The Future', the group's second studio effort, which features the clearest link to the group's 1970s influences, though all three albums showcase their own distinct sonic personality that marks Black Mountain out as a talented and genuinely multi-faceted beast. Led by Stephen McBean(vocals, guitar) and featuring Amber Webber(vocals), Jeremy Schmidt(keyboards), Matthew Camirand(bass) and Joshua Wells(drums), the group formed after initially meeting up at a Vancouver Methodone clinic where various members volunteered; as of 2012 they still do, McBean commenting that: "It keeps us grounded". After signing a deal with indie imprint Jagjaguwar, the group's eponymously-titled debut was issued in 2005 sporting an eclectic and fairly experimental mixture of styles characterized by the spacey electronica of 'No Hits' and the harsh, dissonant rock of 'Don't Run Our Hearts Around'. An impressive if somewhat uneven effort, 'Black Mountain' nevertheless earned the five-piece many plaudits whilst also cultivating a cult following that continues to grow. 'In The Future', however, found a group growing up and exhibiting real confidence in their sound. A heavier, darker, much more complex affair, the album eschewed the indie-rock undercurrents of their debut in favour of a more progressive sound made up of crunchy guitars, old school keyboards(mellotrons, moogs etc), pounding percussion and the coup-de-grace, Amber Webber's beautiful, Sandy Denny-inspired vocals which meld seamlessly with McBean's strained, smoky tone. Highlights on an album filled with many include the enchanting cosmic crawl of 'Angel', a track highlighting Webber's impressive vocal abilities, the brilliant rolling groove of the highly infectious rocker 'Wucan', and last but by no means least, the pulsating sixteen- minute-long 'Bright Lights' which finds Black Mountain mining four decades worth of rock into one bruising epic that showcases the group's uncanny ability to seamlessly combine the old with the new. And that's just the point. Despite featuring a sound drenched in their love of 1970s prog, mystic folk, sludgy metal and classic rock 'Black Mountain's sound is one that remains wonderfully fresh and vibrant. 'In The Future' is the album that should appeal to progressive rock fans the most, yet both their debut and follow-up release 'Wilderness Heart', which features a slightly more modern approach, are also highly-recommended. A powerful statement, 'In The Future' is the real sound of contemporary progressive rock. And it sounds f***ing great.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

 Wilderness Heart by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.24 | 21 ratings

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Wilderness Heart
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Wilderness Heart' - Black Mountain (5/10)

The third album from Black Mountain shows the band developing their sound even further. Best described as their 'maturation' record, 'Wilderness Heart' shows Black Mountain really getting their presentation down and consolidating their music, but still, something feels missing here. While 'In The Future' remains the most inventive thing that Black Mountain has ever released, 'Wilderness Heart' shows the band at their most refined, even if it still results in a fairly bland release.

Although the past of Black Mountain has relied mainly on retro rock conventions, 'Wilderness Heart' shows the band really embracing modern rock sounds, although some sounds from classic rock and 70's prog still remain. There are mellotrons, psychedelic samples and exotic sounds that sound like they could have been taken from Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' here, all thrown atop some fairly conventional songwriting. Black Mountain was relatively adventurous with their second album, really letting loose with experimentation with the sixteen minute track 'Bright Lights' really coming to mind. Here, Black Mountain has become almost something of a standard rock band that one could hear on the radio, with a few prog sounds thrown in here and there for the sake of good measure. Surprisingly enough, this isn't the worst possible idea for the band, due to the fact that while they showed promise while tugging their psychedelic influences, they never really grabbed hold of it. Here, 'Wilderness Heart' shows the band stripping down, but the presentation simultaneously improves. The vocals are still very twangy and none too pleasant to listen to, but are certainly a step up from the poor Arcade Fire-knock off I heard on the debut.

While it is something of a step forward for Black Mountain, 'Wilderness Heart' also doesn't have the same shock value. There is also more than enough of this sort of radio-friendly rock to go around, and quite frankly, there are many bands that do it better than these guys. The development here is audible however, and it makes one wonder that providing they choose to work out a fourth album, whether or not it will be another step forward for the band.

 In the Future by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.46 | 43 ratings

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In the Future
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'In The Future' - Black Mountain (6/10)

After being introduced to Black Mountain through their rather pathetic self-titled debut, my hopes certainly were not up when coming to the band's second album, 'In The Future'. I was expecting yet another series of poorly composed songs and whiny presentation (along with another opportunity to write an angry review), but with their second, Black Mountain has indeed surprised me. I was not expecting some decent stoner rock and competent psychedelic jams, but this is what I have received with 'In The Future'. While still nothing special or standout as an album, Black Mountain has really turned their act around, going from an amateurish indie sound to a much more energetic stoner rock sound that works much better. Nothing particularly impresses me still, but 'In The Future' is a step- hell- ten steps in the right direction for this Canadian band.

With 'In The Future', virtually everything has been improved. Everything from the vocals to the guitar riffs to the songwriting has been upped in quality, and this is much to my pleasant surprise. Besides the song 'Stay Free' (which was featured on a Spiderman film soundtrack, hence the band's moderate fame), there is no song here that leaves much of an impression, instead making for a pleasant, but none too deep listen. 'Stay Free' is probably the greatest point of interest here, seeing as it is the only song of the band's that has met many ears. It is a fairly basic acoustic ballad, with the male vocalist crooning like Neil Young, and for the most part, it works pretty well. Even so, the musical highlight here would probably be 'Bright Lights', where the band tries their hand at 'epic' psychedelia; a sixteen minute jam of sorts that starts out like a Black Mountain typical, but works into a fairly soundscapy freakout from the band. Fairly good stuff.

Maybe the best thing here are the female vocals of Amber Webber, who sounds like a dead ringer for Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. While this robs Black Mountain of any hint of originality (they still revert to a retrogressive rock sound for the most part), Webber's voice has a great vibrato to it, and gives the band more of a nostalgic charm. I am still not entirely impressed by the band's work, but 'In The Future' has certainly saved Black Mountain from being considered a total dud in my books.

 Black Mountain by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2005
2.85 | 17 ratings

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Black Mountain
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Black Mountain' - Black Mountain (3/10)

The debut record from this Vancouver-based psychedelic hard rock band, 'Black Mountain' starts the group of the same name on a three album journey that would arguably culminate with a song of theirs being featured on a Spiderman movie soundtrack. In any case, they have remained of interest to the psych rock underground, although if this debut is much of an indicator as to the quality of the rest of their music, I would be hard pressed to figure out why. Over the course of eight tepid tracks, Black Mountain presents themselves as a mix of recycled retro rock riffs and new school indie whine. Although a few of the less songwriting-based elements of the band's sound show a glimmer of promise, 'Black Mountain' has left me feeling doubtful about whether or not checking out the rest of the band's work is worth it at all.

Although travelling back to the 70's or 60's is a fairly stapled trait with so-called progressive rock, there are usually other things going on in the music that make it worth the trip. Black Mountain starts off their album with a plodding indie rock mess of songs, starting with 'Modern Music' and, where the painfully simplistic blues riffs, poorly executed tenor saxophone, and a whiny drone of a vocal performance going off about some equally poor lyrics. Hearing what sounds like a de-clawed Arcade Fire sing a fairly meaningless sequence of numbers makes me cringe, and the male to female vocals here constantly sound like a pathetic knock off of that band.

Luckily, Black Mountain begins to break out of their pathetic retro indie rock sound by the time 'No Hits' rolls around, and while the last three songs are still nothing special, they do show some promise as hymns of retro psychedelia. 'Heart Of Snow' is without a doubt, the greatest thing that the band offers here, a slow and simple acoustic track that finally uses the female vocals somewhat well, and carries some melancholic emotion to it. But with so much throwback hippie nonsense to speak of on the record, there is little to no reason to recommend it to anyone. I can only hope that Black Mountain focuses on their more successful traits with their future albums, or I can expect to write some more negative things about them, if at all.

 Wilderness Heart by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.24 | 21 ratings

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Wilderness Heart
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Third Black Mountain's studio album is nice release, full of vintage rock melodies, slight psychedelia and shadows of hard-rock monsters from 70-s.

Band uses there their strong points - excellent male/female vocals duets, melodic tunes and successfully revitalized atmosphere of early 70-s. Happily, they don't sound as clone. Yes, you will easily hear influences of Led Zeppelin, Ozzy's black Sabbath and even early Deep Purple on this album, but musicians are skilled enough to sound on their own manner.

Main accent of all recording is made not in heavy rock legacy, but more classic rock sound with doze of psychedelia. Main problem for many prog fans will be there are not many elements of prog at all in this album's music. But for listeners, angry for talented musicians, reworking best hard rock from early 70-s, this album could be really nice present.

My rating is 3+.

 In the Future by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.46 | 43 ratings

BUY
In the Future
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by Peter
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Ever the good Canadian, I bought IN THE FUTURE, by Vancouver nouveau-hippy, psychedelic stoner outfit Black Mountain after it was praised here on PA, and spotlighted in a Toronto record store as new music which would appeal to Led Zeppelin/Deep Purple fans. I'm a long-term fan of both of those seminal seventies heavies, so how do I find IN THE FUTURE? Well, it could certainly be classified as what used to be known as "hard rock," but I find it to be uninspired and overly derivative musically, and lyrically lame. I wanted to like this album, but I'm no longer 12, and it ain't 1972. I went on the old "demons and wizards" trip the first time round, and in more convincing company -- I don't care to fake it now. If I need a fix of hard-rock nostalgia, my Zep, Purple, Rainbow, Uriah Heep and Alice Cooper albums always await.

When bands seek to re-create the spirit, texture and feel of earlier exemplars of a musical form, they enter some tricky territory. They may well lure some younger listeners, and might even get the attention of older fans who yearn for the glory days of their long- gone youth, but they also risk sounding like second-rate imitators -- even plagiarists -- of those who invented the form. Regrettably for this 70s survivor, the latter case applies here. The man has definitely left the silver mountain.

Yeah, you get the shade of Jon Lord's organ, you get pounding drums, big guitars, and the recorder sound from Zep's "Stairway" plus "artful" acoustic accents, but you'll know all along that as with New Coke, it's just not the real thing. None of the riffs are particularly killer, and the singers (one male, one female) are an especially weak link, sounding half-asleep, half stoned. You'll find no Plant-ian, Gillan-esque or Byronic vocal pyrotechnics here! My biggest complaint, though, is with the overwhelmingly lame, school-boyish lyrics. Cringe-worthy, painfully clichéd lines such as "you've got to change your evil ways"(now where have I heard that before -- Santana, perhaps?), "you will die by the sword," "ride the wild wind... fight the demons at your door" and "blood sprawls across the walls" might wow the schoolyard set, but they make me snort in disbelief. (I'm not convinced that blood, as a liquid, even can "sprawl.") Still, like, hey man, isn't the image of gore-covered walls a real deep and cool one? Well, frankly, no -- it's not. I outgrew Dungeons & Drag-ons, and I've had a surfeit of short half-baked songs which go nowhere, along with over-long songs which end in abrupt "we don't know how to end this" fadeouts. Repeatedly chanting "bright light/light bright" might be great fun over a bowl of BC bud, but poetic or profound it ain't. Hard rock, alright -- hard to get into.

The ironically titled IN THE FUTURE (where it's all been done before -- and better, it seems) is sixty misbegotten, misspent minutes of empty, pretentious, unmemorable bombast. All bong smoke-on-the-water and mirrors, Black Mountain are akin to a dwarf shouting from the shoulders of a giant's statue, or a big wind breaking across the mouth of a long-drained bottle: full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing. Save your shekels for retirement, seniors. If you need something hard, blasting LZ4 or MACHINE HEAD in the Golden Years Sunset Rest Home will win you more points with that sexy seventy-something across the hall, anyway.

1.5 stars -- generously rounded up because the groovy cover art reminds me of my old Rubik's Cube.

 In the Future by BLACK MOUNTAIN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.46 | 43 ratings

BUY
In the Future
Black Mountain Crossover Prog

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

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.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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