Underground Sounds: Mountains Crave – As We Were When We Were Not

Label: Avantgarde Music
Band: Mountains Crave
Origin: United Kingdom
Maybe it’s the rich cultural melting pot Britain has become over the centuries. It might also be the ancient myth and wonder, still hidden in some hidden parts of the land, but somehow bands from the island seem to have a special approach to black metal. Mountains Crave is no different, with a very particular approach to the genre and distinct theme. Their album ‘As We Were When We Were Not’ is special and well worth listening to.
The band is actually delivering their debut with this record. The group from Leeds has been around for a bit and did drop an EP in 2014. It might also help to know that there’s two members of A Forest Of Stars in the line-up, a band that never ceases to amaze me. Other members had previous experience too, amongst them in Old Corpse Road.

Opener ‘Ynisvitrin’ immediately sets the bar with passages of Mongolian throat singing (or something very close to it), woven into the fabric of the song. That is strangely working out well and sounds pretty natural as some unearthly vocals. For this record, the group drew inspiration from Aldous Huxley’s 1962 lecture on visionary experience. This is part of the exploration this album undertakes in its dense and heavily atmospheric sound. The lyrics read like mantra’s, fitting right into the hypnotic sound of guitar walls. The drums really make you feel it all in your gut as you ponder these cosmic ideas of death, spirit, and afterlife the band is hinting at.

On ‘Clear Light of the Void’, the band samples a recording of Gerald Heard. A historian, scholar, and LSD-expert that fits in with the enlightenment-seeker theme of the album. Such facts seem trivial, but to me, the interwovenness of theme, music, and material is what can make an album so much more convincing and attention-grabbing. The flow of music, the odd little pace shift in the track and it’s overall harmony make you easily float along on its notes. Whether it’s in the bath of sound that is the guitars or the haunting female vocals, there’s peace and tranquility to be found in the music of Mountains Crave.

One of the highlights is the instrumental title track. Minutes long only the cosmic experience of the music. At the end of the record, there’s a glimpse of that light. A sense of the enlightenment we seek as normality returns.
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