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Black Mountain: Wilderness Heart


Black Mountain

Album: Wilderness Heart
Label: Jagjaguwar

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Black Mountain has always courted comparisons to the monsters of ’70s rock, but Black Sabbath and Deep Purple wouldn’t have known what to do with a woman as ballsy as Amber Webber, whose house-shaking howl finally moves from the periphery to the center of the band’s rumbling sonic molasses on Wilderness Heart. Webber shares vocals with lead singer Stephen McBean on every track, and their potent chemistry has remade Black Mountain as a stoner-rock Fleetwood Mac on the band’s slickest, most pop-friendly record yet. Naturally, this cloudy-headed version of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham trade cocaine for bong rips, teasing an appealing lightness out of acoustic numbers like the proggy “Radiant Hearts” and haunting “Sadie” amid the usual slabs of roaring riffage like “Let Spirits Ride.”

For a band that has made jammy excess and hippie-fied eccentricity vital parts of its musical DNA, the relative straightness of Wilderness Heart sometimes comes at the expense of distinctiveness. “Old Fangs” and “Wilderness Heart” deliver considerable pleasures in succinct, ragingly tuneful packages, but their radio-made heaviness sounds an awful lot like other AOR devotees like Wolfmother and Queens Of The Stone Age. Still, considering that the catchiest number on Wilderness Heart is called “The Hair Song,” it would seem Black Mountain’s freak-flag hasn't been completely lowered.