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Black Mountain: IV

Four albums in, the Canadian anti-heroes change direction.

Last time we heard from Black Mountain was in 2010, as they percolated warm, 70s rock’n’roll through Wilderness Heart.

It was classic yet deftly twisted – Deep Purple with psych; Led Zeppelin but cuter. There was always a healthy sense of progressive exoticism about them, which they’ve now fully unleashed on IV. Their other-worldly qualities are now bigger and uninhibited, without sacrificing their trademark beefy groove – as illustrated immediately with opener Mothers Of The Sun, as infectious as it is sprawling. From here on the record unravels in a cinematic tapestry of textures and tones, with atmospheric synths and samples among the riffs. It’s classic rock at heart, but not as you know it, and there’s a lot of variety too, amid the fuzzier qualities. Florian Saucer Attack marries ELP-esque synths with dirty rock hookiness. You Can Dream is all hypnotic urgency, electronics married with hazy, head-swimming vocal refrains. And Crucify Me finds an almost church-like peace, via acoustic strums and commanding, breathy vocal harmonies. Black Mountain have never played it too safe, but with the highly satisfying IV they’ve made their most confidently creative work yet.

Polly Glass

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.