Past is present In the Future, as Black Mountain grind out some guitar-god retro-rock. The five-piece may hail from Vancouver, British Columbia, but their sound is all southern-fried seventies. Black Mountain got a lot of attention off their self-titled debut in 2005 (making Amazon.com’s ‘Top 100 Editor’s Picks), and now they follow it up with In the Future, where the thrash gets turned up a notch.
Future opens on really its best track, single “Stormy High”. This Confederate guitar-rock procession burns on its march like no one since Sherman, and possesses just the right amount of knowing attitude. Things go more epic on the almost as sweet second song “Angels”; slow and tragic, it also has a nice big effect. Black Mountain does twist the AM dial somewhat on the record, employing more of a Sawyer-on-Lost southern smarm charm with “Wucan”, and a high strum on “Stay Free” (also featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack). Amber Webber takes over vocals from frontman Stephen McBean on “Evil Ways”, playing rock goddess diva to a high-but-dark ‘demon rock’ effect, while there’s a jungle drumming plus guitar wail on “Wild Wind”.
Sometimes, though, Black Mountain varies things too much, as in when they do it during a song. “Tyrants” begins with a driving guitar jam, then into a slow, big grind, before a loud grind and a quiet restrain at the end, all inducing a bit of a headache. But that’s nothing compared to the seventeen-minute-long “Bright Lights”, which goes everywhere from a slow procession to a stripped echo, hard rock to haunting keys; Lord does it go on.
The influences are obvious, and, to Black Mountain’s credit, they don’t hide them, but flaunt them. And this isn’t some blind devotion to an idealized Me Decade: in their day jobs, three of the five members of the group work helping the homeless near Vancouver’s Main & Hastings, the so-called ‘heroin capital of Canada’; there’s no illusions about the ‘real’ black mountains of those days. So take In the Future when you want your seventies without the hangover.