Classic Review: Hypermagic Mountain – Lightning Bolt

Just when I thought Lightning Bolt couldn’t follow up their 2003 LP, Wonderful Rainbow, with another project of the same caliber, they blow my expectations out of the water. This album is incredibly solid, and one could argue it's better than Wonderful Rainbow. Though the overall sound of Hypermagic Mountain is more consistent across the board, what it unfortunately misses are the sticky riffs of Wonderful Rainbow which make you come back for multiple listens.

In my view, the key selling point of Wonderful Rainbow is that it has more memorable tracks (Assassins, Dracula Mountain, 2 Towers, On Fire, Crown of Storms), but what it does lack is the sonic consistency of Hypermagic Mountain. As I noted in my Wonderful Rainbow review, the second half of the album does start to fall off as songs become less memorable and the pacing begins to stagnate. Throughout Hypermagic Mountain, Brian Gibson’s bass guitar more frequently utilizes a sludge metal aesthetic than previously. Though I may be slightly biased toward the “sludge” sounding instrumentation because I am a huge Show Me the Body fan (a hardcore sludge-punk group from New York), the addition of this noise makes the album constantly exciting, unlike sections of Wonderful Rainbow.

Unfortunately, like Wonderful Rainbow this album does suffer from a few flaws. Though to some these may be seen as minor, there are a couple key issues I found with this album in particular. The first being that the song Magic Mountain has one of THE most repetitive riffs I’ve ever heard by the band. It doesn’t matter how unique your bass guitar sounds, if you repeat the same chords for almost two minutes straight your listener is going to get bored. The one redeeming quality of this song is that it ends on a high note and you almost completely forget about it when the following track, Dead Cowboy, begins.

At just under eight minutes in length this is without a doubt my favorite Lightning Bolt song in their entire catalogue. As soon as this song came on, my face lit up with a smirk. As the song progressed my eyes began to widen more and more as I slowly turned up the volume of my headphones. The buildup on this track (starting around 0:40) leads into one of the greatest drum and bass combos I’ve ever heard, period.

Another flaw I found with this album was the track Mohawk Windmill. I usually don't have any issues with lengthier Lightning Bolt tracks, but this ten minute piece can get a bit tiring. Though the song isn't nearly as boring as Magic Mountain, it doesn't utilize enough chord progression or change in sound in order to keep the listener encapsulated for the entire duration. Just like 30,000 Monkies from Wonderful Rainbow, the following track, Bizzaro Bike, feels too chaotic and with little song structure to boot.

Even though I found the later end of Hypermagic Mountain to be the primary error of this album, I often don't find myself skipping tracks when listening through. As one cohesive piece this album is a tough contender as Lightning Bolt’s best release to this point in their career.

Favorite Tracks: 2 Morro Morro Land, Captain Caveman, Birdy, Riff Wraiths, Mega Ghost, Dead Cowboy, Bizarro Zarro Land



- gavtunes