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Mountain God : Forest Of The Lost


Mountain God's second EP capitalises and improves on everything that was good about their debut.



The last time we heard from New York's Mountain God was the 5-track 2013 EP 'Experimentation On The Unwilling', establishing their penchant for mixing up a fierce and raw concoction of Doom drawn largely from Sludge, Stoner and '70s Psychedelic influences. It gathered some deserved praise for layering surprising depths of complexity into a rough, angrily streetwise palette that stayed unwaveringly true to the dark side.

So here we are in 2015, looking at the follow-up, 'Forest Of The Lost', still with the very much independent Archaic Revival Records, still on cassette, but with an eye on making the shift to vinyl. Which means the sound retains much of the warm, murky, suitable-for-analogue character of its predecessor, and the continuity of the same band members employing the same arsenal of sonic weaponry gives it a recognisable identity.

This time around, though, Mountain God have eschewed the quick-fire punch of galloping through 4 - 5 minute tracks and instead gone for broke with a single, sprawling piece spanning three distinct movements. That's both a brave and a justified decision, the former for setting their collective compositional skills a much higher target to aim for, the latter for pulling it off with genuine aplomb. Okay, of necessity, there's a more distinct break - just over the halfway mark - to fit in with the release format, but listen to the single-sitting streamed or downloadable version and you'll find it fits in just fine with the evolution of the overarching triptych.

In fact, the variation between sections is quite large; you could easily believe different band members got to write the trio of sections separately, in their particular favourite style, then they all sat down to weld those into a single seamless offering. Regardless of whether that's actually what happened, the result is a smoothly transitioned journey between segments that originate from quite widely differing roots as well as themes. It's a remarkably effective union of contrasts, and equally noteworthy when taken as a whole.

I can't really see a way round dipping into a track-by- track analysis at this point, though if I camouflage it as track-by...itself, perhaps no-one'll notice the stylistic faux pas. Anyway, moving swiftly on...opening (and only) track 'Forest Of The Lost' is a concept track "about a community of lost children who've fallen victim to societies inequities". Kicking off with a heavy, sludgy Electric Wizard-type riffed intro, it slides into the sort of Post-Punk/Hardcore nasal staccato that worked so well on the debut - a bit like channelling 'Pandemonium'-era Killing Joke at sub-60 bpm. With hardly a breathing space, the following section morphs into tormented and sinister, darkly ambient, textural exploration reminiscent of Wolvserpent's organic darkness. Finally, that absorbing claustrophobia makes way for a slowly-building bluesy Sleep-ish Stoner groove, replete with semi-chanted, tribalistic clean vocals, and adding in plenty of swirling psychedelic keyboards, as it heads towards a thunderous, snarled climax.

Packing in as much variety and depth as it does, the track is an elegant example of how to fit an inordinate amount of clever and subtle detail into the framework of an unflinchingly blunt instrument: like the aural equivalent of being punched in the face with an exquisitely etched and decorated Renaissance platemail gauntlet. And, to extend the analogy, the craftsmanship of the band is exemplary, both individually and in the way they complement each other, flexing and sliding with the tight precision and unity of those overlapping gauntlet plates forming into a perfect fist. Additional credit for that impression goes to the often-understated but very significant keyboard/noise work, the varied, highly effective percussion and the idiosyncratic vocals, all of which really bring out the atmosphere of the piece.

It's been a while in the making - nearly a year since the start of recording was announced - and Mountain God have spent that time getting it very right. It bodes well for their future, despite recent post-recording line-up changes, having capitalised on the elements that looked so promising in 'Experimentation...' and raised their game to this new level.

So, simply: this is really, really good. You should probably buy it now, and encourage them to make more records.


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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. Forest Of The Lost

Duration : Approx. 19 minutes

Visit the Mountain God bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-02-19 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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