Album Review : Black Mountain’s ‘Destroyer’

I remember when I got my drivers license. I was a late bloomer and didn’t get mine till I was 17. After some shenanigans prior to being 16 and my uncle’s 1949 Chevy, I was banned from getting my license for a bit. But when I did finally get it, it was such a feeling of freedom. Cruising down the road, cassette deck blasting Rush’ 2112 and the world all laid out before me, one piece of county road after the other.

Well apparently whether your 17 or in your late-40s, that feeling never changes. Singer/guitarist Stephen McBean of the Canadian 70s rockers Black Mountain got his drivers license for the first time in his late 40s. That freedom culminated in inspiration that has turned into Destroyer, the 8-song rock and roll banger of a new Black Mountain album. The first since the band’s triumphant 2016 album IV. This is also the first Black Mountain album without original members Joshua Wells and Amber Webber. With new drummers and new vocalist Rachel Fannan(of Sleepy Suns), Black Mountain hasn’t seemed to miss a beat. Destroyer is the heaviest and loosest Black Mountain record yet, and full of meaty rock and roll riffs and lead foot abandon.

From the get-go, Destroyer runs on pure rocket fuel. Opener “Future Shade” opens up like a muscle car on an abandoned open road. With the combination of Judas Priest riffage and Jeremy Schmidt’s galactic keys, McBean and Fannan compliment each others vocal styles. Let your devil horns fly, my friends. “Horns Arising” sounds like what would happen if you tried making a pop song out of a doom metal riff. Skull-crushing guitar and ethereal synths coalesce perfectly with the robotic vocals. “Closer to the Edge” sounds like Schmidt’s side project Sinoia Caves, all wobbly sci-fi synths and moody soundscapes. The vocals sneak in with a hint of glam attitude.

It’s not all heavy metal posturing, though. “Pretty Little Lazies” is a sauntering tune of mellotron and doom-laden acoustic strumming. Imagine a concoction of Moody Blues, Pixies, and King Crimson and you’ll start to get this great track. There’s also closing track “FD’72” that is all moody contemplation. If Pixies ever got into 70s prog they might have sounded like this.

Of course, there’s the snake-y groove of “Boogie Lover” and the full-on NWOBHM fist-pumping glee of “Licensed To Drive” that will surely get you a speeding ticket on your way to nowhere.

Destroyer sounds like a reinvigorated Black Mountain. Hearing of Wells’ and Webber’s departure was a blow, but McBean and Schmidt seem to have turned things around. Destroyer is your summer jam, and with this playing in the car you won’t be driving 55.


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