Mountain Man - Grief [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mountain Man

Grief [12-inch] (2011)

Think Fast!

Massachusetts hardcore act Mountain Man grew out of the abbreviated legacy set by half its members in Last Lights, and essentially picks up where that band left off after the tragic death of frontman Dom Mallary: searing, visceral hardcore modeled after early 2000s acts like Panic and American Nightmare (the latter a band whose appeal has only appeared to, strangely, further polarize over the last decade), then modified with their own sense of spat outrage and liberal doses of powerviolence-style thrashing.

After a pair of well-received EPs (a 2009 demo and 2010 10", One), the band unleash a convincingly intense and well-rounded full-length debut in Grief. Conveying their title in a psychological sense, the band actually map out the album via the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Each of these stages are given three-to-four tracks to let the listener move through. It gives things an interesting aesthetic element for sure, but it's hard to say if the band truly take advantage of the potential in laying out such distinct quarters: compared against each other, each stage is musically similar, none necessarily carrying traits or moods unique to that moment of the LP.

That being said, the band guide the record with a vicious bend and relatively creative fury. As a result, highlights abound. "Denial I" is a sinister buildup that eventually resembles Give Up the Ghost's "(It's Sometimes Like It Never Started)" (and when it ends with a "1-2-3!", it just seems like a paean at that point). "Denial II" follows as a short, full-speed-ahead blast, while "Denial IV" throbs and broods for much of its 2:30 running time (the longest of the 17 tracks here). "Anger I" lays on the vocal static à la Sex Positions for an ambitious flourish, while "Bargaining I" is a re-recorded and re-titled version of "Live" (from the demo), given a slightly smoggier delivery. Off-kilter squeals and relentlessly pound through "Depression II", while "Depression IV" has this particularly tumbling pow-pow about it–all popping drums and such. Closer "Acceptance II" has the grieving protaganoist finding peace through one last semi-violent tantrum.

Grief's strength largely lies in its little bits of careful experimentation, keeping this album fresh throughout its course–even if it didn't have to be at only 24 minutes long. As a result, it's a successful full-length debut.