Review: Black Mountain, In the Future
Black Mountain is a five piece out of Vancouver, British Columbia featuring Stephan McBean (vocals, guitars), Matthew Camirand (bass), Jeremy Schmidt (keyboards), Amber Webber (vocals, percussion), and Joshua Wells (drums, percussion, keyboards). McBean wrote the lyrics on all of the tracks on In the Future save one which was written by Webber. In the Future is their second full length album and it has attracted a good deal of critical praise. Listening to it makes me feel like the little kid who said “But, the emporer has no clothes”.
The music is a combination of Black Sabbath-style riffage and proggy/druggy/psycedelic rock. In the Future opens on a promising note with “Stormy High” which rocks and roars and generally lives up to it’s name. While the rest of the album has moments of excitement I find it gets very tedious very quickly. McBean sings in a high register that is often reminiscent of Neil Young while Webber wails along with enough melisma for four vocalists. At times the combination of their voices is electrifying but at others – too many others – it sounds like whining. Too many tracks have plodding, dull rhythms and although the big heavy guitar riffs can be compelling, they’re also pretty simple and repeated way too many times. The whole thing bogs down into a bludgeoning thud.
The main track on In the Future is “Bright Lights” which clocks in at 16:41 and is almost universally described as “epic”. If repeating the same thing over and over again with little or no variation for minutes at a time is epic, than “Bright Lights” surely quaifies. The lyrics begin with McBean saying “Bright light” five times followed by “Light bright” five times. Then Webber says each phrase five times. Then they trade off with McBean saying one phrase another five times and Webber finishing up with the other phrase repeated five more times. I’m not making this up. The accompanying music is about as interesting as the lyrics. This sort of thing goes on for another 16 minutes with monster guitar riffs intruding (and being endlessly repeated) from time to time.
Listening to In The Future you get the idea that if they could shift their drug cocktail toward something with a little more zip and tune in to the fact that repeating the same thing umpteen times before you change it up is boring, Black Mountain could produce a killer album. Maybe the next time.
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