The B.C. rocker’s fifth LP ditches the bong-hit-in-the-basement vibe in favour of short drags best suited for blasting on the open road.

Cannabis is now legal in Canada, and so is Stephen McBean. The Black Mountain front person finally got his driver’s licence in 2017, quickly discovering the freedom and exhilaration of burning rubber down an open road. It’s no wonder that Destroyer, Black Mountain’s fifth long-player, ditches the bong-hit-in-the-basement vibe of their previous albums in favour of short, sharp drags best suited for blasting on long stretches highway.

Though the band claims the album is named after the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, I can’t help but draw some connection between Black Mountain’s latest and the classic 1976 Destroyer album by Kiss. Neither can be pigeonholed as being concept albums, but there’s enough throughline to fuel these hard-driving, roadworthy rock anthems from start to finish.

Clocking in at eight songs under forty-five minutes, Destroyer is the most compact album in Black Mountain’s canon since their self-titled 2005 debut. “Future Shade”, the high-revving opening salvo introduces McBean’s co-pilots: long-time bandmate Jeremy Schmidt, newcomers Rachel Fannan (of Sleepy Sun) and Adam Bulgasem (Dommengang and Soft Kill), and friends Arjan Miranda, Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), and Kid Millions (Oneida). The deeply bluesy “Horns Arising” and spaced-out synth rocker “Closer to the Edge” shift gears take familiar roads to 2008’s In The Future. “Boogie Lover” brings out Black Mountain’s swirling psychedelic side before “Licensed To Drive” kicks into turbo.

By trading in the half-baked dazed and confused tone of previous efforts for cannonball run bluster, Destroyer offers the latest Black Mountain model a new lease on life. After four albums of blissed-out stoner rock, Destroyer is a welcome change of pace, that hopefully sticks around longer than its namesake car model did.

Kevin A
“Make Me Move”
Rae Spoon