ARTIST: Mountain of Smoke + ALBUM: Future Sins + LABEL: Independent + RELEASE DATE: DEC 13, 2019
Sneaking in at years’ end is Mountain of Smoke’s follow-up to 2018’s Gods of Biomechanics. If you’ve had the chance to catch the band over the last year, you’ve noticed it’s no longer just PJ Costigan (drums) and Brooks Willhoite (vocals, bass). First, the band added Alex Johnson on pedal steel and synths. Now the band has The Sword’s Kyle Shutt on guitar. The two-piece version of the band never had any problem bringing the noise on their own, but with the addition of Johnson and Shutt, they have a deeper and more layered sound. Which brings us to the Future Sins EP.
In November, the band dropped “The Weeping Spine” single – an ominous and strange song that showcases the depths Johnson and Shutt can bring to Costigan and Willhoite’s brutal template. That was just a taste of what was to come on Future Sins. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Michael Briggs at Civil Audio in Denton, the 6-song collection sounds like Mountain of Smoke injected with human growth hormone and a healthy dose of LSD. No, the band hasn’t gone psych-rock. But, there’s some trippy moments here.
Kicking off with “Trashcastle,” the band shows what the new line-up has to offer right out of the gate. Following a restrained, mid-tempo intro, the song breaks into a full-on gallop. Guitars and bass blend into a dirty rhythm with Costigan’s drumming leading the charge. When things come to an abrupt stop, Johnson’s siren-like pedal steel howls until the rest of the band jumps back in mid-tempo. Willhoite’s menacing growl is its own instrument, barking and bending against the music. The second track, “Plague of the Powerless,” is a stunning display of an inspired group of musicians. One of the heaviest songs to come out of Dallas this year, “Powerless” is fucking terrifying. About midway through the song, Shutt applies some angular guitar work that leads into a crazy synth line that eventually propels the song through to its end.
The next two tracks, “Terminus” and “Zone Tripper,” see the band descending into madness. “Terminus” is a synth-laden instrumental track that gives your ears a few minutes to rest, but tickles your brain with its looming atmosphere. “Zone Tripper” is fairly experimental, without losing the bands basic foundation. Willhoite and Costigan start off with a thick bass line and rolling drums before Johnson’s haunting pedal steel adds melody. Willhoite’s vocals are drenched in effects, giving the mid-tempo song a hypnotizing quality. Half-way through, the song breaks down into an indecipherable mix of sounds and noise before culminating into a doom-y riff. When the pedal steel and Willhoite’s weird vocals return, it somehow all makes sense.
The EP closes with two tracks that are more familiar Mountain of Smoke territory. “The Barrens” is a sludgy, riff-centric track that is quintessential Mountain of Smoke, with the addition of some sick leads by Shutt. The final minute or so of the song is an unadulterated pummeling of your ear drums. Doubtless, “The Barrens” will be an intense live experience. Revisiting a song from Biomechanics, the band puts a fresh take on “Tannhauser Gate.” Somehow even more threatening than the original, “Tannhauser Gate Redux” is a colossal slab of doom metal – a fitting close the EP. At this point, you’re either all-in or running for cover.
Future Sins is an exciting glimpse into Mountain of Smoke’s future. If you’ve been following the band, you’ll certainly dig this entry into their discography. If you’re new to the band, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start with this EP.
– J. Kevin Lynch