The Led Zeppelin revival is good news for Black Mountain, for In the Future takes its lead from some of the very best in 1970s rock. It also shares that era’s no holds barred ambition, flinching not from seventeen minute mini stage works or extended instrumental wig outs in the course of its journey.
And before you turn away thinking “we’ve heard all this before”, you probably haven’t heard Black Mountain before. This, the Vancouver band’s second big opus, is a ballsy record that weighs in heavily with rock riffing but backs it up with more introverted musings, staying well above pretension and providing some memorable music along the way.
Take the chorus of Queens Will Play, where Amber Webber shows herself to be far more than backing fodder to front man Stephen McBean, with the chorus “We’ve all seen tomorrow, and there’s truth in what they say, demons may be hiding in our shadows”. To follow this with an extended guitar line, backed by a synthesized chorus, might seem excessive, but while that’s the nature of the beast it makes its solemn point.
While it doesn’t explicitly name its target, Tyrants could easily be leveled at the leader south of the Canadian border. “Tyrant, you’ll be damned by your power”, it begins, “and the blood you’ve spilt, You will die by the sword”. Wucan, meanwhile, is more instrumental, bringing reminders of Deep Purple with its Eastern-inflected riff returning over a loping beat. Only Bright Lights could go either way, its repeated mantra equal parts effective and annoying, though it makes its point.
The group don’t forget to rock out though, and that’s the music that’s really running through their veins. Confident opener Stormy High sets out the stall, while the galloping drums ushering in Evil Ways introduce an organ riff Black Sabbath would be proud of. The musicianship, it has to be said, is pretty phenomenal, with the band holding control in the slower passages but really impressing when the heroic drumming of Joshua Wells is brought to the fore.
Rooted in the past this album may be, but it has genuine moments of original inspiration, both musically and lyrically, and a scope of ambition most bands would be scared to try out. Black Mountain should therefore be applauded for sticking to their principles.