Friday 6 March 2015

Mountain of Smoke - 'Mountain of Smoke' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 19/6/2014
Label: Self Release

‘Mountain of Smoke’ CD//DD track listing:

1). Holden (04:06)
2). Sebastian (03:05)
3). Wise Owl (03:09)
4). Taffy (02:45)
5). Chew (03:36)
6). Captain Bryant (03:37)
7). Pris (02:17)
8). Gaff (01:35)
9). Rachel (02:32)
10). Deckard (02:17)


From Dallas, Texas comes Mountain of Smoke and yet another two-piece playing doom/sludge; I swear, it's an epidemic.  There seems to be an influx of two piece bands coming from nowhere, and while some are better than others, it's beginning to mean that such duos need to distinguish themselves. I personally know of a couple / three such two piece bands that are unbelievably heavy and Mountain of Smoke manage to distinguish themselves from the others, quite nicely I might add. The instrumentation isn't masterful. The strings, whilst using a nice, solid fuzzed, sludge tone, aren't exactly mind-blowing and to be brutally honest, you can tell this album is the band's first outing. It's raw, and has a hint of clumsiness to it, but this isn’t a bad album and it doesn’t suffer as a result.

I rather like the Blade runner theme that runs through the record, with every song on the album, referencing the 1982 Science Fiction classic.  Indeed, you'll notice songs named "Deckard", and "Rachel", after Harrison Ford and Sean Young's characters.  In fact, if I could replace the movie's score with this album, I totally would, and if that is what Mountain of Smoke was going for, then you've sold me. I get it.

Mountain of Smoke is in essence a sludge band, for sure, but I would almost call it "Stoner Sludge", with a little bit of Ministry thrown in, with early White Zombie, sprinkled with a dash of Black Sabbath for good measure.

Song length for me personally can be the Achilles’ heel for many bands in the scene, because running on one or two riffs, no matter how bone-crushingly heavy you are, can get tedious after seven minutes or so, but M.o.S understands this, and make the effort to keep things from getting too repetitive. The track "Wise Owl" is a good example. (Remember the Replicant Owl, when Deckard first meets Rachel?) 

For all the good points, personally I would have liked more variety in the vocals, each track is accompanied by the "Ministry-esque" screams, which aren't altogether bad, but the songs don't all evoke the same mood, so it seems the vocal style shouldn't either. Irrespective of that, they do the job, and it does work with the sci-fi theme.

If you like Sludge, and Bladerunner, you pretty much need this album. If you just like decent sludge metal and want something a little different, check this out. It's not the greatest album of the year, but I have to hand it to these guys for creativity, keep it up.  I for one, will be keeping an eye on what they do next \m/

Words by: Mike Borsum.

‘Mountain of Smoke’ can be purchased here

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