Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart
Close your eyes and picture this: two dudes, like DUDE dudes – bearded, scruffy and wearing corduroy pants and cardigans. Dudes.
Dude #1: Dude, the new Black Mountain?
Dude #2: Wilderness Heart?
#1: Yeah man!
#2: Dude, shreds!
#1: Yeah man!
And so on. And Wilderness Heart shreds, those dudes aren’t wrong about that. But, it would be a terrible disservice to the depth and dynamics of this album to dismiss it as an album that ONLY shreds. Instead of simply being a metal record it is part prog, part pop, part metal and part gospel album. There is nothing simple about Black Mountain and therefore there is no simple generic definition for this band or this album.
The weakest parts of this album are the epic ROCK moments mixed throughout. ‘Old Fangs,’ ‘Rollercoaster,’ ‘Let Spirits Ride’ and the title track hearken back to those days in the early oughts when we were getting stoned in our bedrooms listening to all those unfortunate post-prog-revival bands. Ultimately, these songs are forgettable: they are full of beautiful lyrics but it’s only after a number of listens do they begin to become decipherable behind the churning, chugging, wailing guitars and endless scales. These songs are hiding great song writing behind fantastic guitar playing.
But, that is a minor complaint because on the whole Wilderness Heart is a very solid record. The majority of the album is a perfect balance between beautiful musicianship, emotional pacing and perfect pitch songwriting. ‘The Space of Your Mind’ is the best Black Mountain song and is worth every single silly metal reference on the album. A mix of Social Distortion, The Gossip and Billy Bragg ‘The Space of Your Mind’ perfectly showcases the Stephen McBean/Amber Webber duets that pepper this album. Webber herself has a voice the rings beautifully true and honest and sounds like she has finally come into her own as a member of this band. Her strong voice would be welcome anywhere – rock record to gospel soul; stadium to church.
And it’s true isn’t, “It is a wondrous thing when the heart has nothing to hide.”? Ultimately Wilderness Heart has nothing to hide. Soaked in modern innovation and a deep sense of nostalgia this is the perfect album for the cooling fall weather and keeping warm in the winter.
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