When you name your album “IV,” you’re risking some lofty comparisons: “Led Zeppelin IV,” “Faust IV,” “Gap Band IV,” even Black Sabbath’s “Vol. 4” if you bend the rules. It’s the sort of title that will destroy a lesser band’s chances of a fair review. But if you’re Black Mountain, well, those are the comparisons you deserve. In the decade and change since the Canadian outfit first exploded on the scene, Black Mountain has blended big riffs, artful hooks and sexy synths to create some of the 21st-century’s most unflappable rock. Featuring not one but three songs clocking in at over eight minutes, “IV” is long on ambition, short of staid, predictable fare. Fusing the greatest ideals of early FM radio with AM gold songcraft, Black Mountain turns the malingering menace of “(Over and Over) The Chain” and gnarled futurism of “You Can Dream” into unshakable earworms. The band’s masterwork to date, “IV” delivers a listening experience as thrill-packed and invigorating as the loftiest comparisons you can throw at it.
ESSENTIAL “Cemetery Breeding”Sean L. Maloney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.