Canadian psychedelic rockers Black Mountain have built a sizable following with their first three albums: “Black Mountain”, “In the Future” and “Wilderness Heart.”
In a genre synonymous with all things underground, the band has even managed to get their music played in a J.C. Penney commercial and an episode of MTV’s reboot of “Teen Wolf.”
Their sound can be described as an overall mix of a teenaged outcast’s record collection from 1969.
There’s a healthy amount of heavy, sludgy guitars one would find from Black Sabbath, some folk harmonies coming from the band’s two vocalists and some trippy Pink Floyd-esque moments to fill things out.
With their fourth full-length release — simply titled IV — the group build upon these established sounds to create some new and interesting approaches to a nearly 50-year-old psychedelic sound.
“Mothers of the Sun” opens the album with a dirty Black Sabbath-meets-Led Zeppelin guitar riff that fades into pulsing keyboards and haunting melodies from female vocalist Amber Webber.
Band leader Stephen McBean soon follows with a great countermelody before the guitars come thundering back in. The fact that they can stretch this over a nearly nine minute song and still keep things interesting is remarkable.
Things get more upbeat on the next track, “Florian Saucer Attack.”
Webber channels Jefferson Airplane front-woman Grace Slick as the rest of the band plays with almost punk-like fury.
Synthesizer beats meet distorted guitars in “You Can Dream,” one of the most otherworldly tracks on the album.
One of the finest cuts from “IV” is “Cemetery Breeding,” with its lovely minor-key melody and bright, chiming guitars. The album closes with “Space to Bakersfield,” its longest track.
“Space to Bakersfield” is admittedly repetitive, but it would be fantastic if it were perhaps cut down to four or five minutes and not the full nine.
For fans of ’60s and ’70s rock, I would highly suggest checking out not only Black Mountain but the whole psychedelic/throwback rock movement going on right now.
The Black Angels, Windhand, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and more fantastic young bands are relishing a nostalgic sound, while still experimenting and expanding.
Having released their debut album 11 years ago, Black Mountain could be seen as elders of the whole scene.
With this new album, they are showing why they remain at the front of the pack.