Black Mountain: In The Future

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By: Tim Newby

Back for their second album, Canadian freak rockers Black Mountain stay true to the formula laid down on their 2005 self-titled debut and continue to channel the spirit of Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi through an absurdly wicked King Crimson riff filter that will force you to throw up some devil horns and bang your head.

In The Future (Drag City) though isn’t a non-stop barrage of pure head-banging madness, which would be painfully brutal to listen to. Instead, it takes time to slow down and counter all their heavy brilliance with some sullen melodies. This counterweight is most notable on “Stay Free” and “Queens Will Play”. “Queens” finds percussionist Amber Webber taking over on lead vocals, conjuring a spooky, ethereal quality. “Stay Free” strips away much of the heavy sheen that dominates so much of the album and moves with the slow 4 am drawl of Neil Young. It is at these moments when In The Future is at its best, i.e. when the band provides a brief respite from the thundering Black Sabbath inspired guitar riffs that populate their music. Those thundering riffs define Black Mountain’s music but when they strip them away the beauty of each song stands at the front and its great to see, even if just for a moment.

Black Mountain’s latest creation is not for the faint of heart. It is a dense, moody, challenging album that will force you out of your comfortable listening zone. It is a dark trip through one’s band’s psyche that will leave you feeling slightly unsettled at times. But, it is a musical trip well worth taking, a chance to explore a musical netherworld that, at its best, invokes a fragile union between the long-haired, leather clad metal monsters of the 1970s and their more thoughtful prog-rock brothers with their penchant for overblown keyboard solos and complex song structures. When it works it’s a gorgeous marriage of styles. On In The Future this union is at its best, and for Black Mountain this union is simply who they are.

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