Release Date 13/09/2010 (Jagjaguwar Records)
By Paul Robinson
Wilderness Heart is the third long player from Vancouver’s psyche rockers, Black Mountain. It was preceded earlier in the Summer by the excellent single ‘Old Fangs’, a fantastic retro slab of Deep Purple-esque space rock.
Knowing the eclectic nature of BM’s musical cannon, the album was never going to be another collection of psyche/stoner riffing. It’s a step forward from the first two albums, but only a small one. There’s more vocal interaction between Stephen McBean and Amber Webber on several tracks, in particular album opener, ‘The Hair Shirt’, and the alt-country flavoured ‘Buried By The Blues’.
But, stoner fans, don’t despair, there is one huge monolith of Sabbath riffing and that is ‘Let Spirits Ride’ which is surely going to be the highlight of the forthcoming tours live set.
Webber gets to take the lead vocal on the title track and let’s rip. It’s an epic starburst of a song, highlighted even more by the total volte-face of ‘The Space of Your Mind’ which follows.
This album is the first to be recorded, in part, outside of their home town – though I doubt Seattle seemed too much of a contrast. It must be the influence of some L.A sunshine that has created some of the lighter moments on here.
Wilderness Heart is certainly an album of contrasts. There’s many a vague nod to the past but it’s not stubbornly stuck in the Summer of Love or Altamont, and the album deserves repeated plays to let it really get under your skin. I think the real essence of this album is the balance of lovely vocal melodies against chugging psyche rock. It works, but only just.