Black Mountain: IV

Leisurely, long-awaited fourth from Canadian psych rockers.

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

If all acts were as accurately named as Vancouver’s Black Mountain, Sam Smith would go by the moniker Innocuously Nasal and Florence + The Machine would be called Pagan Tinnitus.

A band that should make promotional crampons, BM scale the craggy face of dark Himalayan stoner rock, dodging avalanches of metamorphic riffs and stopping for regular campfire sing-alongs.

Like a longhair Arcade Fire or a more intense Band Of Skulls, they temper monolithic psych-country blowouts with plush melodic moments, the vocals volleyed between singers Stephen McBean (gnarled, slightly sinister) and Amber Webber (delicate, slightly Yoko). But the six years since lost classic Wilderness Heart have diminished that album’s vivacious pop streak – IV takes a more measured pace around bleaker themes.

Line Them All Up, Crucify Me and Cemetery Breeding are all tender acoustic pop tunes concerning, respectively, murderous regimes, sticking needles in your eye and grim graveyard sex: ‘When you looked in my eyes I was dreaming of suicide,’ McBean declares, out to seduce Cure fans.

Elsewhere, amorphous throbs and Krautrock electronics abound, Defector funks gently along like Pink Floyd’s Young Lust only semi-aroused, and even lengthy psych-doom behemoth (Over & Over) The Chain shows restraint – only two of its eight minutes sound like a Cloverfield tea dance.

The synth-punk Florian Saucer Attack, essentially a sci-fi assault on a Siouxsie & The Banshees gig, is the one cliffhanger moment in a Black Mountain hike that’s more sedate, but no less scenic.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.