Wilderness Heart – Black Mountain

Canada is a mixed bag to say the least. As far music, it’s about as divided as the Middle East. On one hand, it’s the motherland for Death from Above 1979, and Neil Young. On another hand, it’s also the shithole that produced Celine Dion and Nickelback. Point and case made right there. So yeah, I’m usually skeptical of anything that reigns from our neighbors to the north.

Black Mountian is an exception to the rule and helps tip the scale sligthly for Canada. I’ve been into their stuff since I first heard In the Future. The opening tracks Stormy High and Angels were some of the strongest tracks of 2008 with the first having a great rock n’ roll riff and the second having a simplistic, but powerful progression. The rest of the album was awesome too, but Stormy High and Angels were a great introduction to a great band.

The album opens up with The Hair Song. I was skeptical when I first heard the song. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it’s definitely a different vibe than Stormy High. Maybe it was my fault for expecting something like Stormy High (and don’t pretend like you haven’t done the same thing for other albums made by bands you like), but it was a grower. Still not a 100% on the track but time will tell what happens. I do dig the guitar on the track though. Afterwards, we merge into Old Fangs. Opening with a muted guitar strums and organ fills, the song almost sounded like a lost 80’s Billy Idol song. Thankfully, it morphed into something completely different, with the band returning to some of their roots on the chorus. It kicks ass and was a pleasant surprise.

Radiant Hearts slows the album down. It’s a great track with great lyrics, but I definitely would have placed it later on in the album. The guitar is very cool in this track and so is the small build up towards the end with the synth line and small drum fills. Like I said, it’s a great track, just poorly placed. Roller Coaster definitely reeks with Zeppelin influence. Anyone who hears the guitar on this track and isn’t a dork can totally feel it. However, it’s not that they’re stealing riffs. It’s more like hijacking. What’s the difference? Stealing is when you take it and leave it as is. Hijacking is taking it, but adding your own twist to it. And it works for them on this track. Definitely one you want to check out and it should be a single. The energy from this track continues on Let Spirits Ride. This track is a lot harder and I can’t wait to see how it translates live.

After that, the album slows down a bit. Buried by the Blues puts a cap on the chaos built up by the last two tracks. However, towards the end of the track, when the Joy Division-like synth kicks in (think Atmosphere), you can feel that coming a little loose or at very least, shaking a bit. The Way To Gone continues this trend. One of the album’s best tracks, it builds up towards the end, making it seem like the next track is inevitably going to be a lot harder. And it is. The title track kicks in and kinda of reminds me of the Duke Spirit. The guitar is addictive and the chorus simply kicks ass. Definitely one of the best on the album.

Instead of continuing the trend of speeding up with the energy, the band decides to slow down once again for The Space of Your Mind. It’s not a horrible track by any means, but I think it would have done better as a b-side. While the album doesn’t go out with a bang, the closer Sadie is entertaining to say the least continues the tradition of great guitar closers.

This is not a bad album. What it mainly suffers from is a poor track listing and too many slow songs. It doesn’t start off strongly, but the middle is great. The ending is a bit lackluster, but like I said, if you rearrange a few things and throw out a few tracks, I think it could have been a great album. Or maybe it’s a grower and I need to give it a few more listens. I’d hate to write this album off completely because I really like this band and what they’ve been doing so far. So I won’t. I’ll just say that it’s an alright album but not as great as In the Future or their debut.

I’ll still see them when they come to Nashville with the Black Angels (another badass band). Hopefully, a lot of these songs will translate better live since there will be a different set/track list.

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