Black Mountain - Destroyer - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Black Mountain - Destroyer

by Bill Golembeski Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-24
Black Mountain - Destroyer
Black Mountain - Destroyer

This is a great hard rock psych album.

Now, Black Mountain has never hidden its love of 70’s rock. The first album was a smorgasbord of heavy riffs, Pink Floyd space, some acoustic stuff, and a lot of Neil Young and Crazy Horse guitar rock.

 So, expect the expected—in an unexpected way.

Fast forward to their fourth album (IV), and the band hit on all tough cylinders. The first tune, “Mothers of the Sun” is heavy, at times lightly acoustic, with sonics that stretch into near perfection of big guitar Black Sabbath Led Zeppelin drama.  The entire album is a joy to old ears. The final tune, “Space to Bakersfield” was a wah-wah New Jerusalem eclipse of the still beaming 70’s sun.

Sure, the band’s music is retro. But what they do is put a mirror to that music, and then tap it, slightly, and those cracks distort the original image. So, the lunatic is still in my head, but that lunatic has aged and the riffs are older and one day closer to death, perhaps more urgent; and the thoughtful bits are etched with deeper contemplation, framed, of course, in even greater quiet desperation.

But just so you know, that lunatic is thrilled with the return of vinyl!

And the Neil Young and Crazy Horse rock is long gone.

And now to Destroyer…

As Led Zeppelin sang, The Song Remains the Same, and tunes like “Future Shade” and “Horns Arising” have amped up energy, with keyboards that swirl into the heavens, and pure heavy rock ‘n’ roll dramatic swagger pumping old heartbeats into brand new vigor.

It’s always nice to see Lazarus rise from the grave every once in a while.

So, this music rolls rocks. “Future Shade” sounds like epic Wishbone Ash, circa Laurie Wisefield’s big arena rock sound of No Smoke Without Fire. But “Horns Rising” is a wondrous bit of hard progressive rock, replete with massive keyboards (with eerie echoes of King Crimson’s Lizard Suite), a super heavy riff, a lovely acoustic interlude, and then a grooved guitar coda that would not be out of place on an early Uriah Heep record. And once again, the dual male/female vocals play a signature sound ace card as Stephen McBean and new member Rachal Fannan share vox duties.

By the way, there’s a museum in Stockholm, Sweden that positions mirrors to reflect into themselves, so as to create an infinity of reflection. “Horns Arising” goes well beyond the mere tap that slightly distorts the original, and truly does enter into the beautiful world of myriad mirrors.

Perhaps, rock music should be a hall of mirrors, a place where the past is always the present, and of course, just like a pulsing wah-wah solo, the present never gets old.

In truth, this album wanders a bit more into the wilderness than the previous record. The song, “Close to the Edge” is an example: A keyboard pulses while the title is almost chanted. Now, the song has nothing to do with the Yes masterpiece; but, as the old saying goes, It’s the thought that counts. By the way, that refrain is repeated later in the album, so as to create a unified concept, which is always a really cool thing to do.

And “High Rise” is pretty much heavenly hard rock, with a wah-wah solo that, once again, manages to clear my sinuses. The music and vocals swell with tension to the moment when all is “Just a shot away.”

“Pretty Little Lazies” is genuine psych rock that echoes The Pretty Things’ “The Journey” from S.F. Sorrow and ends with a mellotron sunset, not unlike the first Crimson record. That’s high praise!

While there’s no denying that the chorus of “Boogie Lover” sounds like Gene Clark’s “No Other,” clothed in much heavier duds than the weird stuff Gene wore for the cover art photo op, the song, taken on its own terms, is a messy maelstrom of wonderfully slow grooves.

Ah, and “Licensed to Drive” is big and urgent melodic hard rock, with (perhaps) a polite melodic nod to The Edgar Broughton Band’s “Evening on the Rooftops.” The guitar work does pump with the more modern metal sound. It’s a great upgrade of that classic heavy 70’s sound.

The final song, “FD 72,” is quite simply, an obvious tribute to David Bowie. Trust me. Nothing wrong with that! The lyrics even mention “the man who fell to Earth.” It’s really quite nice. The vocals certainly evoke Ziggy’s sound, as he once pled, “Give me your hands.” And the drama captures the tragic ethos of The Thin White Duke.

And yes, this music proves that, thankfully, the rock ‘n’ roll soul will always find life on Mars.

Well, this album explodes with a mirrored vintage rock. Yeah, Lazarus does come back from the grave. And, like anyone who is half past mortality will probably say, “It’s easy to miss a lot of the good stuff, first time around.”

And that’s what this album does: It simply doesn’t miss all the good stuff that was offered up, long ago, with the very first spin around any wonderful and very vinyl turntable. There are many familiar vibrations, tons of sobs, and shards of forever young memory, fervently reflected in the many mirrors of this pretty great rock ‘n’ roll record.

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