'Destroyer' by Black Mountain, album review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions



Black Mountain

Inspiration can present itself in many different guises and for Canadian psyche warlocks, Black Mountain, their fifth LP ‘Destroyer’ was inspired by frontman Stephen McBean obtaining a driving license. Furthermore, the album’s moniker relates back to the now defunct Dodge Destroyer, that last came off the assembly line in 1985. As something of a coincidence, the 80s would appear to be the peak of where Black Mountain’s influences hit a brick wall; their new album is entrenched in 70s and 80s bloated, bombastic prog/psyche rock that, not unlike the Dodge automobile that loans its name to the record, is now obsolete.

All the tricks of the trade are wheeled out for Black Mountain’s new, OTT record, an album so pompous you’ll be looking around for a miniature Stonehenge to appear any moment. With dials cranked up to eleven, the Vancouver/Los Angeles outfit certainly don’t hold back with their classic rock-styled posturing. It’s an indulgent record and one that borrows from many rock clichés; down to the massive histrionic guitars, diluted synths and rambled, almost indiscernible vocals. I swear on ‘High Rise’s drawn out schlep, McBean sings about “the loneliest cock in the sky”?! It’s an album that seems to be stuck in a time warp but with no hooks into the contemporary. Whereas some acts refresh the sound of psychedelic rock, Black Mountain’s ‘Destroyer’ comes across as laboured and something of a relic of rock’s embarrassing past; for example, on ‘Horns Arising’, amongst the cyber autotuned vocals and lumbering ancient missives, I’m certain you can hear a lute; its silliness personified. In another outdated reference to the past, ‘Boogie Lover’ digs the grave of faux-rockstar predatory bullshit, with the creepy line of “boogie love/won’t she come over”. It’s peculiar hearing this kind of music that conjures up wrangling’s with goblins, dwarfs and wizards; surely this overblown take on rock, that was made extinct by punk and grunge’s raw assault?

‘Destroyer’ like the Dodge manufactured car it’s named after, is better off resigned to the past, where it belongs.

Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams


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