Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean turned 16 after Woodstock but before Varg
started burning down Norwegian churches. And yet, until just two short years
ago, McBean had lived his entire adolescence and adult life without a proper
driver’s license, that first and most coveted ticket to personal independence.
Black Mountain’s new album, Destroyer, is imbued with all that wild-ass freedom
and newfound agency (and anxiety and fear) that comes with one's first time
behind the wheel.
Destroyer, named after the discontinued single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle
car, is structured around the feeling of driving a hot rod. The album exists in the
middle of the early-to-mid 80s Los Angeles war between punk and hair metal - it’s
exhilarating, spirited, and dangerous. Throughout, youthful themes run rampant:
“Boogie Lover” cruises down the Sunset Strip, “Horns Arising” is a fill-up at a
desert gas station just in time to see a UFO hovering near a mesa, and “High Rise”
rounds out a sense of teenage discovery.
To create Destroyer, McBean shacked himself up in his rehearsal space and
invited over friends from the endless rock’n’roll highway, bringing to life 22 songs.
While some were laid back into shallow graves to dig up once again at a later
date, the others were left above ground and polished and given life, some
transformed by longtime band member Jeremy Schmidt. This generation of Black
Mountain also sees new members Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) and Adam
Bulgasem (Dommengang & Soft Kill) as well as familiar collaborators Kliph
Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida) and John Congleton (St. Vincent,
Swans). Collectively, there’s a renewed vitality to Black Mountain on Destroyer —
a seasoned, veteran of heady hard rock that’s found new, young muscles to flex
and roads to explore.
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