Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart album review
Two words, people. Black Mountain. Let me tell you why this underdog is something soaring somewhere between Zeppelin and Sabbath on a tie-dye soaked astral plane riding in the most delicious friggin’ banana split you’ve tasted; then captured, liquified, reduced to its essence, and lovingly applied to a generous hit of acid. Is your mouth watering like Pavlov’s dog yet?
Their third installment, Wilderness Heart, is a powerhouse of creativity from start to finish. Opening with “The Hair Song”, and never looking back, Black Mountain immediately grabs you with commanding guitar work and the symbiotic vocal duo of Steve McBean and Amber Webber. “Old Fangs” shows off BM’s psychedelic rep and let’s the tag-team vocal work of Amber and Stephen break free to volley between the well-timed guttural keyboards of Jeremy Schmidt. A somewhat dark and moody tune, “Old Fangs” grinds through the rock and roll stratosphere with an offering of contemplation: “Is it foolish to know what you’ve won before you’ve begun?”
By the time the album rolls into nostalgic acoustic pieces like “Radiant Hearts” and “The Space of your mind”, you know this band is for real. The last track “Sadie” is another perfect example of BM’s ability to kick it down a few notches and fill your mind with Fantasia-like visions of cascading fairies. Does anyone remember that scene in Almost Famous when William Miller stumbles onto a couple singing soulfully to each other in a hotel room, only to be yanked away by Penny Lane?
“Rollercoaster” is a slow and soulful but powerful demonstration of BM’s ability to draw you in with a well crafted rock tune, followed by the almost near perfect specimen of the rock and roll animal “Let Spirits Ride.” This track dares you to spontaneously rock in public like a mental patient and make a complete spectacle of yourself. It also showcases Joshua Wells’ ability to drive the band to the edge of oblivion with killer fills, booming drums, and well executed rock and roll drop kicks.
However, if I had to pick one tune to dissect and try to analyze this band at a cellular level, it would have to be the title track “Wilderness Heart.” Opening with Joshua’s thunderclap fill, followed by Stephen’s piston grinding guitar riff, it also reveals the true heart and soul of this band. Amber not only punctuates the song with bursts from her symphonic alto voice penetrating the earth’s crust with the iron daggers of proprietary rights, but proves why she belongs in this band. The reality is, Black Mountain could probably function without Amber, but that would be a tragedy. One thing I’ve noticed and love about Black Mountain is the fact no one is the front “person.” I believe that could change, though. Resembling a concoction of Grace Slick, Joan Jett, and Stevie Nicks, Amber could easily step up front and center into the role as rock and roll goddess. A simmering volcano? We shall see.