Black Mountain: In the Future

Black Mountain's epic prog-rock has an exotic, tripped-out appeal.

Rock nostalgia doesn't always result in great art, but it can sound pretty bitchin' blasting from a car stereo. In the Future, Canadian group Black Mountain's second album, provides further proof (after 2007 single "Druganaut") that for these five Vancouver residents, the future sounds like a hazy black-lit garage in the early '70s. But while they may offer similar heavy riffage, bearded songwriter-­guitarist Stephen McBean's band doesn't do stoner rock. They're on a far more varied and nuanced excursion: an audio journey from warm Summer of Love psychedelia to cold, anguished Vietnam-vet winters rampant with narcotics and suicidal cults — a tableau with an understandably modern appeal. (Three band members have day jobs providing social services to Vancouver's homeless drug addicts.) While the epic prog-rock musings of songs like "Tyrants" and "Queens Will Play" have an exotic, tripped-out appeal, they're also reminders of why punk rock was once such a necessary elixir. Black Mountain truly finds its groove on the slower songs; on both "Wild Wind" and the excellent "Angels," McBean and his cohorts snarl confidently à la early Alice Cooper and Goats Head Soup-era Stones, sounding powerful and surprisingly contemporary. Taken as a whole, In the Future seems less an ode to some mythical past than a passionate love letter to an amazing record collection. — John Albert

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