Mountain Caller have been creating quite the buzz both on stage and off. Performances with the likes of Slabdragger and a slot at Desertfest under their belts, they have been moulding and developing their sound. For such a band with such a short history they have already built a reputation for themselves of being ones to watch out for in the coming years. Already (we hope) they will be gracing a stage at the premiere alternative rock festival ArcTanGent in 2021.
Noting post rock and doom influences such as Cult of Luna, Russian Circles, Sleep and Elder amongst others, it's clear that the London trio cherry picked some of the best parts of these legendary names, but certainly have carved out their own sound. The songs on the album appear chronologically, not only of the female protagonist character, on ‘her journey to rediscover her memory and voice’, as the band explain, but also in the timeline they wrote the pieces. Not only are you seeing the character’s path but the band’s rapid development and each member finding their own instrumental voices. The band’s aim, rather than using lyrics, but soundscapes to deliver a world and a story. They wanted "listeners to conjure up cinematic scenes in their minds".
The opener ‘Journey Through The Twilight Desert’ drifts in with a light, atmospheric and delicate guitar line from Claire Simson, before drummer Max Maxwell and bassist El Reeve enter the frame with a skittering beat and a simple but effective bass line sending a low rumble through the pit of your stomach. The three come together with a head bobbing riff. The guitar and bass then take turns to lead a gentle walk, flowing over each other beautifully, the dynamics already shining through. A Deafheaven-esque riff comes to fore taking you by surprise, a breakdown stops you in your tracks before returning to that previous head nodding riff. This album is well on the way down the character’s bumpy, thrill riding road.
‘Feast at Half-Light City’ sounds so full you would not think this is a debut, especially when hearing the production from Joe Clayton (Pijn) and mastering from Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna) come to life. Thunderous toms, the distinct crack of the snare, glistening hi hats and cymbals and the roar of the guitar and bass, showing their musicianship. It immerses you in the world and the personality they have created. Bands within the genres Mountain Caller sit in are not known necessarily for hooks, but the riffs here embed into your subconscious. Towards the end the tribal drums take the lead as the guitar reverberates over the top lifting you into ‘I Remember Everything’. The bass forming a solid foundation, before a huge swathing guitar riff overruns you at points. The introduction of a glockenspiel (or a ‘rockenspiel’ as Max describes it) which gives you respite before launching you into an uplifting hopeful, warming crescendo and finish.
‘Trial By Combat’ - much akin to it's namesake - feels like a battle. The opening bars you are equipping yourself for what is to come, before taking a reflective breath as the track slows. The song surges suddenly and Claire’s guitars take the charge as the drum roll throws you into the last part of this act prior to succumbing with exhaustion from the fight.
‘A Clamour Of Limbs’ is unrelenting. Jaunty riffs and fills smash you over the head before opening up into a slowing riff that takes you from headbanging to swaying as the guitar shimmers over the top. A distant whisper is heard at one point, as a listener you try to capture the words, alas it is too distant. An anxiety ridden interlude leads you into El’s only vocal line ‘These things you said will trouble me always. These things you said follow me all my life’ which vocalises the troubled journey of the character and also a double meaning for El’s personal experience coming out as a teenager. The record a true and honest personal statement for the band. The closing track ‘Dreamspirals’ is another dazzling, moving track leaving you hopeful for all involved in this epic story. Closing out with stellar drumming from Max. When seen live you become transfixed on his skill.
The trio’s on and off stage chemistry manifests throughout this marvellous debut. It is tight, interesting and most importantly thought provoking. For such a relatively new band this is an outstanding debut and definitely delivers when taking you on a journey and purveying their style and voice. Let’s hope this continues into the next chapter (Chronicle II?!) not too far down the road.