By Oliver Key
Black Mountain are about to blow my brain out the back of my head and then reassemble it differently, like some epiphanous trip that I will never understand. Afterwards I will see that they have the wisdom of the gods.
For reasons unbeknown to me, the band skulk past the crowd halfway through the support acts set looking panicked and dishevelled, probably late, and this means they have to do lots of plugging in and tuning up (and turning on and tuning in and dropping out) and mic testing and such when they get on stage, which sets them a few minutes late, and then as they finally look ready to start, by some stroke of shit luck the bass amp breaks, so a few very distraught roadies scurry about and by the time things are all sorted, I am itching with anticipation.
The members show no bother for the technical difficulties, they seem distant and calm, lost in their thoughts, barely even speaking to each other, and then from nowhere they lay down the title track of their new album ‘Wilderness Heart’ in full force, guitarist Stephen McBean sends himself into a shut-eyed sway and tears out a monstrous 70s style rock riff like an insane prayer to Black Sabbath themselves. The song thrashes and pounds and sends the crowd, a mixture of die hard old rockers and studenty types, all red-eyed and pasty, into a glorious haze……..they have begun.
They are relentless and uncompromising, and it seems they’re not great talkers. If it weren’t for the odd appreciative smile when one of them looks down at us from admiring the lights and the ceiling, plus the odd uttered thanks, one might think they aren’t aware of the crowd at all. It’s almost as though they are sharing a place with us that would be shattered with words.
For sure it feels like more of a sensory mash-up and less of a message. Keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt lets out ethereal rushes of noise which send charges up the spine, adding a dreamy element, not dissimilar to that of ‘My Bloody Valentine’ to the stonerish growling sounds of the rest of the band, and singer Amber Webber bellows heartfelt melodies which often rise into maniacal crescendos reminiscent of Jefferson Airplanes’ Grace Slick.
‘Rollercoaster’ keeps the set heavy, it’s good to hear they’ve kept their typical churning, repetitive sound, they pound out a riff until it sounds like a roar inside my head but then they cut all the fuzz and turn it into something space age, abstract and fabulous, for this is surely a band somewhat practised in the ways of psychedelic exploration.
Tracks like ‘Buried By The Blues’ break up the set with a more mellow sound, far more upbeat and, dare I say it, straightforward than their earlier material but overall this is simply a band showing off another great album of wall-meltingly psychedelic, heavy as fuck rock and roll. This is music to blow your mind out.