Sound — 9
Black Mountain are a band that follows in the footsteps of Wolfmother, although with a more diverse fervor. The songs are much less bound to their influences and they are much easier to swallow. If anything, they hearken back to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Neil Young, as if the Flaming Lips covered them. Lyrically and musically, it is a CD of its own that showcases a band that has evolved from the art rock band that debuted in 2005. Their Velvet Underground influences still surface. Songs from the last album, such as "Don't Run Our Hearts Around", "Druganaut", and "Modern Music" have been scrapped for epic songs that are musically much more evolved. The songs are better than before. Truly a left-of-field classic, something bigger than Wolfmother's radio-worthy sound. What Wolfmother focused on was being a live band. However, Black Mountain is truly an album-essential band. This collective led by Amber Webber and Stephen McBean on vocals is truly something to reckon with.
Lyrics — 8
01. Stormy High - a powerful song that conveys their influences well. It is a track that has a great, militaristic riff to open up with. It has great drumming and, throughout this album, there are no guitar solos. However, there seems to be a greater interest in songwriting. 02. Angels - a song that has the Velvet Underground influence of the first album, almost as if the Flaming Lips were singing for "Transmissions from the Satellite Heart." This song is also a very simple one to learn. It is a very dreamy song. 03. Tyrant - the riff shares similarity to Stormy High, but the song is an attempt to create an epic rhapsody, almost akin to prog rock. It is a prog rock song, in that it has less of the eerie songwriting one would find on the album. However, the song has very exciting parts to it. 04. Wucan - an eerie track that the lead singer says is influenced by ancient Purgatory rituals that tribal cultures used to initiate. The song is very eerie and has riffs akin to the earlier tracks. 05. Stay Free - very Neil Young-inspired music, musically. It's an acoustic guitar track and is a very good song. It is very nice to listen to and is relaxing. 06. Queens Will Play - again, powerful music with almost Sinead O'Connor-esque vocals. It is a very eerie track that has a creeping bassline. The song has only one moment that resembles a guitar solo. However, it has a great tone. 07. Evil Ways - the song has a Carlos Santana vibe and sort of sounds like Tom Petty, at one point. It seems very rooted in witchcraft and has very distinct organ work. It is a standout song, because it has more energy than most of the other rock-based numbers. 08. Wild Wind - a short song that seems to fit very well with the rest of the songs. Lyrically, it is a simple song that doesn't need to rely on much, except for simple writing. It seems to be an ultimatum, lyrically, about "Riding the wild wind", or, "Fighting the demons at your door." 09. Bright Lights - again, another attempt at being epic that seems to drone very long. This number has gained great notoriety for it's length, but the song is good. It continually builds up to a destructive, powerful song like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, somewhat better than Wolfmother's attempts. It doesn't make sense, 'til much later in the song. It's almost like crawling up stairs, only to reach a firey climax. It's about war and fire, almost like Black Sabbath wrote of. 10. Night Walks - another song like "Queens Will Play" that maintains the same melody throughout, but is short and sweet. A perfect closer to the album, musically.
Overall Impression — 9
The band Black Mountain arrived with a debut effort in 2005 that arrived well before Wolfmother. Having a distinct sound, then, it became more accessible and musically more talented. The songs they originally wrote had that vibe, but this is the better album. Being associated with bands such as Priestess, Wolfmother, and others, this band made itself more prominent, with its most recent release. They recorded "Stay Free" for the Spiderman 3 soundtrack, which was produced by Dave Sardy(Jet, Oasis, Wolfmother.) This album was a commercial breakthrough and a much more distinct effort. Stephen McBean, the lead singer of Black Mountain, has another band that accomplishes what was intended on Black Mountain's first album much better. The members of Black Mountain have other bands that branch through the same label. This band is faraway from the sound that Wolfmother perfected, having much more complex songwriting and more powerful songs. They have a perfect balance of studio power and are also a live band to be seen. They are not like Wolfmother, who solely rely on live shows, but are also easily forgettable. In the end, Black Mountain is an indie rock classic that has broken through. "Tyrant", "Stay Free", and "Angels" are all great songs that should be recommended for others. Their attempts at being epic do not bode well, but it makes for interesting banter, on this album by Black Mountain.