Lightning Bolt

Hypermagic Mountain

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AllMusic Review by

Lightning Bolt's 2003 album Wonderful Rainbow just kept getting bigger and bigger, like a 16-ton amplifier falling out of the noon sky. Its bass tone squashed round heads into wrecked ellipses, and the drums chattered away as if on a chain drive. The album was the opposite of Excedrin, a tension headache in ten movements. Lightning Bolt have done it again with 2005's Hypermagic Mountain. It's hard to say this is accessible; besides, if you did say that, no one would hear it anyway. But bassist Brian Gibson and drummer/default vocalist Brian Chippendal build an addictive structure into the manic pulse of "Captain Caveman," and "Riffwraiths" -- musicians' biggest fear next to unreliable drummers -- sounds like a song's break extended to three explosive minutes. And while Chippendale's vocals on "Birdy" are a distracting non-factor, its rhythmic throb is more relentless than a carbon-arc strobe light with no off switch. None of this is melodic in the traditional sense; Wonderful Rainbow wasn't, either. But Lightning Bolt's music beckons from a more elemental place, as a ferocious distillation of shattered punk fury, dance music release, and the purposely weird. Closer "For the Obsessed" ends abruptly in mid-freak-out, giving the silence that follows its own electricity, and in "Bizarro Zarro Land" Gibson and Chippendale are heavy metal soloists fighting to the death. What makes Hypermagic even more heroic beyond its immediate rhythmic grip is the musicianship, the furious dedication to a hyper, jagged groove. Longer tracks like "Dead Cowboy" and "Mohawk Windmill" build into giant fractals of epic noise, with weird little filigrees stolen from old Yes albums bursting forth from roaring bass guitar and splattering drum rolls. At its most chaotic, Hypermagic Mountain could tear open a wormhole into Comets on Fire's Blue Cathedral. It's clear that Lightning Bolt reach stasis at their noisiest, when they're caught deep in the zone.

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