In chemistry, Sodium (Na), an alkali metal, fuses together with Chlorine (Cl) a halogen, and creates Sodium Chloride (NaCl) or what it is commonly referred to as “table salt.” Two seemingly harmful, poisonous and deadly elements fuse together and create a perfectly peaceful hybrid. This works in the music world as well with bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who fused funk and punk together to create an original sound that still defines them to this day. Unfortunately, chemistry also has a way of misfiring as too. That’s what the Vancouver bred boys of Black Mountain have made on their second album, In the Future. One very interesting, yet confused misfire.
In the Future opens with the riff-chugging “Stormy High.” The intro is good and sets up what may be a mood piece, but then it switches to a dirty guitar riff from 3/4 to 4/4 timing. What sounds to be a really good and potential motive is quickly wasted into monotony. It really doesn’t catch its target and the band shies away from the potential musical passages that could keep this record more attentive. The second and third cuts “Angels” and “Tyrants” are so different from each other, you wonder if it is the same band. “Angels” is a standard indie-rock flare type song that follows the same repetitive formula. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t necessarily great either. It feels like a stale piece of bread.
There are moments of brilliance on this record, but they are far and few in between. The overall sound is a bit raw, but the drums are just too clunky and the snare drum really gnaws at your eardrums after a while. Their sparing usage of the keyboards add a nice touch of added depth to the music, but on the grand scheme of things, the song arrangements don’t work too well. In the song “Tyrants,” the first minute of an eight minute epic is great, but is wasted after a dismal anti-climactic thud into sluggish mid-tempo indie rock. It just doesn’t know what it wants to be. In fact, this whole album doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a metal album? Is it an indie rock album? Heck, is it southern rock? Yes, the distortion, the recording feel and even some of the vocals feel as if it is a southern rock record. Southern rock is great, but for what Black Mountain wants to achieve, I believe they’re missing their mark.
On a side note, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton did a duet in 1983 called “Islands In The Stream” which was a big hit for two weeks at #1. This is what Black Mountain feels like, an island in the steam. It sits on the island of averaged centerfold, right in between the streams of the unfocused and the unmotivated.
This is not a great record by any stretch, but it is not ungodly horrible either. At least the band is experimenting with sounds and what not, but for the most part it’s a very hit-and-miss record.
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