For the past years, Canadian rockers Black Mountain have made a name for themselves with their dark brand of psychedelic rock. Since forming in 2004, the Vancouver-natives have released three full-lengths, and yesterday, they released the soundtrack to the film Year Zero, relesed via Jagjaguwar Records. Building from the terrific Wilderness Heart, the Stephen McBean-led band continues to pump out killer rock songs. For a surf film, the music is extremely dark. Instead of California surf pop that you’d expect to hear backing a Gidget movie, the songs weave lo-fi psych metal; futuristic drone outs; a twisted, jazzy saxophone tune, all of which manage to work within the structure of the soundtrack and reflect the post-apocalyptic tone of the film.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the band. In their native Canada, the band has developed a strong following. Having started off playing basement parties, Black Mountain has moved onto the big stage. They’ve been nominated for the prestigious Polaris Music Award, have toured with Coldplay and have been lauded by critics across the globe.
What makes them different is that they have the rare ability to shift from genre to genre, yet each songs possesses a certain flair about them that makes it a Black Mountain tune. It doesn’t matter if the song has a bit folk or is bone crunching metal, the band is able to put together cohesive songs that are their own, which has a certain Seattle flair to it, which shouldn’t be surprising since the city is less than three hours away.
Unlike other bands, Black Mountain knows how fortunate they are to be making music for a living. Several bandmembers have worked for organizations that help the chronically poor, drug addicted and mentally ill in their native Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighborhood. During an interview with Pitchfork.com, the band does this to stay grounded and appreciate what they’ve worked for.
All things considered, it’s surprising that a band like Black Mountain would agree to provide the soundtrack to a surf film. However, the band was given creative freedom. Much of the new material is driven by expansive, synth-driven swirls and a dangerous, rumbling low end. The first song off the track, the nearly eight minute “Mary Lou,” has a driving build and a thunderous bass line that could make even the safest driver feel the need to speed while listening to it. Think a heavier, less dance-y version of New Order, yet has splashes of Sonic Youth at the same time.Though this may only be an appetizer for what’s to come on their next album, Black Mountain shows no signs of slowing down. Even with some band members out on tour with their side project, The Pink Mountaintops, the Year Zero soundtracks gives fans a brief glimpse into what the band’s future may hold. Considering the band’s penchant to change up its style, it may not mean much, but you can count on is that the Canadians will put together a fine collection of kickass rock songs.