LIVE REVIEW: Black Mountain @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney (19/02/11)

written by Chris Familton

Black Mountain were repeating their March 2009 two night stand at the Annandale – a venue that perfectly suits their psych, stoner rock sound. It needs to be filtered through beer, sticky floors and humid air to really connect and feel like the real deal.

The Night Terrors proved to be a nice counterpoint to the more traditional sounds of the headliner. Bass, drums, two keyboards and a theremin made for an interesting combo of sounds with frontman Miles Brown as the visual focal point of their performance. A towering figure with a shock of blonde hair he looked part lanky rocker and part tranced out mad scientist when he unleashed the otherworldly sounds of his theremin. With a set that swung from moody horror soundtrack vibe to chugging space rock they were a compelling band sounding both futuristic and classically grandiose.

Black Mountain have two types of song. The prog-metal, psych-rock juggernauts and the pastoral country tinged quieter ones. They got the balance right between these two extremes making for both an epic and intimate sounding gig. They played a great selection of tracks from across their three albums with tracks from last year’s Wilderness Heart sounding fantastic live. That album gave us The Hair Song, The Way To Gone, Old Fangs and the monstrous Deep Purple-ish title track that came late in their set.

The sound mix was nearly perfect – loud and crunchy with each instrument seemingly placed in its own unique spot in the PA. The only criticism was that the vocals, particularly those of Amber Webber that were crying out for higher volume. The crowd even led a chant of ‘turn up the vocals’ at one point that fell on the deaf ears of the sound guy.

The highlights came with their biggest songs Stormy High, the machine gun riffing of Druganaut, the super quiet/super loud Tyrants and the sultry swagger of Wucan. Many bands attempt to replicate key sounds from past eras but most struggle to make them sound as vibrant and ‘now’ as Black Mountain do. They pummeled and hypnotized their fans – who seemed to range from 18 -60 years old – with the perfect soundtrack to a hot summer’s night.

this review first appeared in Drum Media

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