Consisting of musicians from across Leeds, UK’s extreme music spectrum, with members of psychedelic Victorian experimentalists A Forest of Stars and local grind heroes The Afternoon Gentlemen filling various roles within the band, Mountains Crave are not your run-of-the-mill atmospheric black metal project. This concoction of styles and influences comes to the fore on their debut EP, with the hypnotic melancholy of the guitars being supported by an extremely energetic and driven percussive performance by the ‘Gent’s Rich Speakman. With classical experimentation courtesy of Katie Stone’s guest violins also contributing to the EP’s melancholy ambience, Mountains Crave’s debut EP merges contemporary black metal’s atmospheric leanings with the genre’s raw and aggressive roots, producing an engaging and distinctive sound within a field that too often suffers from uninspired replication.
Easing into the release with the shoegazing atmospherics of ‘Watcher by the Threshold’, Mountains Crave demonstrates both their ability to conjure serene, windswept soundscapes in addition to the presence of a post-metal influence within their palette. The sheer intensity of ‘These Spirits Listen’ however quickly disperses any notion of impending melody or tranquility, with the track’s dense, ominous riffing becoming even more powerful alongside Speakman’s utterly thunderous drumming. Such intensity remains a dominant element of Mountains Crave’s songwriting, with guitarist Mike Midgely’s unrelenting tremolo constructing a dramatic and imposing wall of sound that proves both captivatingly intense and lends the band’s sorrowful, almost folkish experimentations an even greater serenity. The epitome of this evocative stylistic juxtaposition is captured on closing 12 minute epic, ‘River, Breeze, Soil and Flame’, with the track’s searing ferocity being bookended by soothing acoustic guitar interludes, and Stone’s violin lending the thoughtful passages a rural, forlorn poignancy. The effect is one that inevitably harkens to the dark introspection of A Forest of Stars’ folk-imbued material, yet as they explode into an atmospheric, shoegaze-tinged excursion reminiscent of Fen or Agalloch, with Danny Eaten’s traditional black metal rasp layered over the top, Mountains Crave succinctly and convincingly express their own emerging sound and identity.
With the collective experience of their members, Mountains Crave were never going to sound like an unpolished bedroom black metal project, yet this short but engaging EP reveals the band to be confident in their sound and direction. A promising release that undoubtedly hints towards greater things for their upcoming full-length, Mountains Crave are surely well-poised to make their impact in the UK black metal scene.
No Fun Intended
Released on December 12th, 2014