Mountain Caller - Chronicle II: Hypergenesis (Cover Artwork)

Mountain Caller

Chronicle II: Hypergenesis (2024)

Church Road

I think I’m right in saying that post-metal three-piece Mountain Caller might currently hold the title of the most preposterously loud show I’ve ever been to. Admittedly, it was in the 120-capacity Black Heart in Camden, so the room’s infamous acoustics may have amplified things somewhat, but to give you an idea, I had bent down to pick my earphones out of my bag (I’m not a lunatic, I do wear earphones for gigs in such enclosed spaces) and as I was standing up, not yet having deployed the aforementioned ear buds, the first chord rang out and I was literally (and I do mean literally) rocked back on my heels and felt my stomach lining vibrate, such was the intensity of the explosive auditory assault. But luckily for Mountain Caller, I bear them no ill will because of this. In fact, for a time it was my main frame of reference for them as a band and that was still largely positive.

That’s not the case anymore, I’m very glad to say. Because reducing them to such a fleeting moment would almost entirely miss the point of Mountain Caller. As I’ve mentioned, you could broadly term them post-rock or metal insofar as that they eschew vocals for the most part (more on that later) but lean heavily into the more complex emotive textures that one can create with only drums, bass and a guitar. And where the more typical approach for achieving this is to extend your songs out to the 12 or 15-minute point, Mountain Caller retain something of a greater immediacy. There is one song out of the six on offer here that breaks the 8-minute barrier (the album closer and title track) and the entire record rips past in less than 40 minutes. That’s very rare in this field and although some chin-stroking purists would scoff at the relatively brief runtime, I can assure you it’s in no way, shape or form representative of a lack of maturity, character or texture in the songs. And although it does still feel very much like a small group of people in a room playing music, that is something which adds to the record’s charm and accessibility. The riffs are plentiful, the constituent parts of what you’re hearing are immaculately discernible, the changes in effects are so clear that they might as well come with the click of a pedal switch that all bedroom guitarists are so familiar. It feels real. REALLY real.

But don’t be fooled into thinking this is anything less of a post-rock/metal album for its relative brevity. It bears all of the hallmarks of some of the best in the scene (evocative, transportative, shifting structures, evoking dynamic emotions and moods) but in keeping with the album artwork, there is something approaching a playfulness about the record at points as well. Where some post-rock can abstain from big riffs in favour of a ponderous, glacial, building to crescendo approach, Mountain Caller have a flair for not only riffs, but a use of tone that feels more like Mastodon than Mogwai (big shout to Joe Clayton for his production work). There are southern-fried flourishes, but the textures are shot through with cosmic ambience as well. Yet on top of this, there are many points where their musical approach is nothing short of beautiful as well. They lean into a post-hardcore style sometimes for these more shimmering passages when I’m reminded of Is Survived By era Touché Amore.

The fact that Mountain Caller elect to introduce vocals solely on “Dead Language”(via El Reeve, also on bass) is an irony I’m sure isn’t lost on them but does give a very clear hint at what could be yet to come. The band have conquered some pretty impressive heights on their first two records and maybe, having reached across the ‘post’ spectrum and achieved what they have, they could be looking to add vocals more in future. Either way, it shows that they’re more than capable of doing so and as such, gives them an even broader spectrum than they already had to operate in. For a 3-piece (Max Maxwell on Drums and Claire Simson on guitar, making up the other 2/3 of the band) Mountain Caller have a hugely impressive ability to create cinematic, diverse music and this is almost a perfect record for people who like heavier music but who think they don’t like post-rock/metal. It’s so easy to consume, with incredibly satisfying passages coming thick and fast. Riffs, solos, breaks and more besides. Give this is a listen, and I can pretty much guarantee that Mountain Caller will find themselves immediately on your list of bands you want to keep an eye on.