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Mountaineer – Giving up the Ghost Award winner

Giving up the Ghost
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 01 January 2022, 9:02 AM

From their EPK, “the Oakland-based group has been described as Dark Doom, Post-Metal, Shoegaze, and Heavy Rock. All of the aforementioned flows into the musicality of  MOUNTAINEER, but none of the terms alone does  justice to the overall picture. There is far more, because the Californians do not dwell on questions of heritage or genre limitations. It’s about musical expression. The focus is on the transmission of feelings – open, relentless and intuitive, but also with circumspection and clear intentions.” The album contains seven tracks.

“The Ghost” leads off the album. It’s a short, under two-minute instrumental, setting a somber yet somewhat hopeful mood for the album. “Blot Out the Sun” opens with slow, clean guitars. The vocals are clean and somber at first, then harsh and angry. The chorus is where the hopeful tones come in but are in a constant battle with the feelings of desolation. An abrupt change occurs after the half-way mark, and the demons are put back to rest for a bit. The sun comes out from behind the clouds, warming your face again. It’s been a while, old friend.

“Bed of Flowers” begins with clean guitars before harsh accents drop from the sky. The chorus here almost sounds Grungy…with vocal harmonies over a backdrop of slow, fuzzy guitars and bass notes. “Touch the Glass” opens with heavy, dissonant guitars and a backdrop of Doom. As it plods forward with a combination of clean and harsh vocals, it heightens your sense of ill, while the cleans chip away at this feeling a little at a time. “When the Soul Sleeps” was the first single released from the album. It’s an absolute charmer. The clean tones make you feel peaceful and allow you to drift off to sleep slowly, feeling content. But the harsh tones jar you awake in a sweat. The clean guitars at the end could move you to tears.

“Twin Flame” opens with more clean guitar tones and a guardedly optimistic outlook. The cleans here are absolutely beautiful. You can see the sun peeking through clouds of endless grey and rain. It’s a ways off but the sight gives you hope for the first time in a long time. Embrace the feeling, for it will not last forever. “Giving Up” closes the album. It’s a short, one-minute instrumental that for me has the opposite effect of the song title. It makes me feel alive, and strong about the future. Perhaps this is what the album title really means.

Some would argue that Post-Metal is the first official “wave” of the 2020’s. Though it has been around since a while before that time, I am noticing more and more bands creating music within the genre. The sound here can be described as melancholy, moody, angry, and, at times, promising. Through it all however, the one constant is the bevy of emotions that the album runs you through, and somehow it makes you feel things more intensely. I can’t get enough of this type of music these days, and this album sure left an indelible mark on my soul…a bright and beautiful flower growing in the darkest of places.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. The Ghost
2. Blot Out the Sun
3. Bed of Flowers
4. Touch the Glass
5. When the Soul Sleeps
6. Twin Flame
7. Giving Up
Clayton Bartholomew – Guitars, Bass
Miguel Meza – Vocals
Patrick Spain – Drums
Forrest Harvey – Guitars
Isaac Rigler – Guitars
Dillon Variz – Bass
Record Label: Lifeforce Records


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