Mountain Caller are a new London based heavy prog-band that draws on a number of genres and styles, including prog obviously, but also taking in doom metal, post metal, post rock, psychedelia and maybe even a little shoegaze and stoner rock, all given a broad cinematic coating.
This is actually a concept album, telling the fragmentary feminist tale of a woman, known as The Protagonist, setting out to find both herself and answers to undefinable questions in a post-apocalyptic world. Here is story-telling by music alone though, as Mountain Caller is a predominantly instrumental trio with few vocals. To get the best from the album, then, you have to pay attention to any given nuances and allow your own imagination to intermingle with the sounds.
It is worth travelling with, as Mountain Caller stir up quite a stew of a tale with a powerful, often intense, moody, soniferous swaggering that does not really let up. Not that there aren’t melodies to be heard, and there are delicate sections such as in the opener Journey Through the Twilight Desert, but what you’ll remember are the often great slabs of off-kilter sound that come at you. When they come, they are mighty too. The band actually spent three years honing this material, starting with jams and riffing before crafting and conceptualising them. The album’s producer is Joe Clayton of Pijn, and it was mastered by Magnus Lindberg of Cult Of Luna.
The band cite the “infectious jamming of Elder and the dynamic cinema-scapes of Mogwai, underpinned by the mantric riffs of Sleep int” as influences, but it is not too much of a leap of the imagination to also hear the mammoth sound of Tool, the overwhelming heaviness of Black Sabbath, and maybe even the crunch of King Crimson in the more raging moments. This sounds like a huge collaborative effort, with no one musician dominating, be it Claire Simson’s compelling earworm fuzzy guitar, El Reeves driven bass, or Max Maxwell’s clattering rhythms.
This is an impressive, likeable, ambitious, and often inspired debut from Mountain Caller, full of inventive ideas and earth-scorching delivery. It is very doom-laden and quite foreboding. The band is astute enough to recognise, though, that sheer bombastic heaviness is not enough on its own. There are quieter, intricate spells before the music swells and charges. To move on from this monolithic vein will spur the band to greater challenges. But for now, just enjoy this achievement.
1. Journey Through The Twilight Desert
2. Feast At half Light City
3. I Remember Everything
4. Trial By Combat
5. A Clamour Of Limbs
Claire Simson – guitar
El Reeve – bass
Max Maxwell – drums
Release date: 6th November 2020
Label: New Heavy Sounds