If Black Sabbath traveled to Bron Yr Aur to record their third album, it would sound like Black Mountain’s Wilderness Heart.
The witches and demons that were omnipresent on the band’s first two albums have receded into the night, and defined textures have emerged from the sludge, making the third time more than a charm for the Canadian quintet whose mythical lyricism and heavy psychedelia have often bordered on novelty. Rather, Wilderness Heart retains the chug-a-chug riffing, banshee harmonies, and quicksand reverb, but with elements of pastoral folk and an intensive focus on songcraft that feeds the multi-dimensional “The Hair Song” and drags “Let Spirits Ride” from the heavens and into the dirt.
This is not the first time that Black Mountain have eased the throttle; “Angels” from 2008’s In the Futureis hauntingly strung with creeping guitars and a dark soul. But the marching throb of “Rollercoaster” and the tenderness of “Buried by the Blues” – coupled with more Earthly subject matter edging the intensive mythic lore that has been at the center of the band’s lyrics – make Wilderness Heart Black Mountain’s best yet; a finely-tuned collection worth visiting again and again.
Wilderness Heartis out now on Jagjaguwar.