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Hypermagic Mountain

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

It's like listening to Lollapalooza from a block away while playing a 90s version of Ridge Racer

So I live across the street from Grant Park in Chicago, where Lollapalooza (and Obama's inauguration) took place. The music from it gets distorted and echo-y between the buildings, with sort of a canyon-like effect. The awesome muffled vocals of this album remind me of that, mixed in with Kenny McCormick. And then the near-constant crazy-fast guitar and drums clanging reminds me of revving the engine of some car in a game at the arcade where half the buttons are stuck down and you have to press extra hard, but you really don't mind because it was only 75 cents and somehow the car can zoom past 1000 miles per hour and it only makes a clanging noise when it hits a barrier, though you technically should be exploded. Google pictures of this band. The drummer has this awesome luchador mask that I would totally buy if I saw one on eBay, though I doubt they mass-market masks like that.

Some music you don't get tired of listening to.

The drums are the melody and the guitar is the beat.

PPhheeewww!! - I should be tired...

LB are one of the most unique bands there are right now. Powerful, explosive, noise that has now started distillation but without sacrifice for what's made it so. Maybe it's more a case of refinement.... maturation.... It's just better. Now, they've managed to incorporate melody into their malestrom. But, on their terms. Not relenting one inch of who they are. Everything about or produced by Lightning Bolt is on their terms. It's what i admire most about them. I appreciate the challenge & committment posed by a band like this. The committment to their art knows no age (though the crowds are usually half of mine). And that's where it hits home to me. I'm listening to a manic visual art if that makes any sense. DeKooning, Pollack, or Chippendale himself. If their visuals had a sound.... I see them every chance i get & you should too as the live show actually manifests those mental images into a powerful, manic & visceral experience. They simply don't allow for my spirit to get old. Tho' watching them, chippendale in particular, will make you tired. His arms & sticks are a blurry flail that doesn't seem to stop. B.Gibson is stoic in comparison & you won't believe that those sounds coming from his amp. I can't recommend them enough. I really can't. (and for the other side of the same coin, you'd be wise to check Battles)


Formed: 1995 in Providence, RI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '10s

Lightning Bolt emerged from Providence, Rhode Island in 1995 as a three-piece art school project. Initially there was Brian Chippendale's explosive, nonstop drumming, Brian Gibson's Contortions-like basslines, and Hisham Baroocha's vocals propelling them in a fury of volatile noise and orgiastic tribalism. The group helped found Fort Thunder, a music and art collective, and recorded a self-titled album that was issued through Load in 1999. By 2001's Ride the Skies, Baroocha had departed (he eventually...
Full Bio
Hypermagic Mountain, Lightning Bolt
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