I’ll get my confession out of the way now and it’s two fold. Firstly, I’m a huge Blade Runner fan, from the myriad of the seven original versions (which I own all of) to the 2049 sequel, that haunting Vangelis soundtrack and most related things in-between. Secondly, I was unaware until 2021 of a band called Mountain Of Smoke, a doom/sludge band from Dallas Texas who have crafted a high proportion of their output around the conceptual ideology thrown up in Ridley Scott’s finest moment (it’s my review so don’t @ me…).
As the rain relentlessly poured down for what felt like all of May, one could be forgiven for thinking that the world had been transformed into Los Angeles 2019, although given the events of reality in 2020/21, as drab as that might have seemed, at least they could pop down the noodle bar or go to a strip club.
But back to the music. Mountain Of Smoke released their debut way back in 2014, a hard-edged blend of steel and synth laced with samples from the film and titles relating to the characters. This drone filled dystopian nightmare had much in common with Godflesh or Author & Punisher, blending crunching industrial sounds and psychedelic departures that seeks to speak to the soul and the complexity of that thing that haunts both humans and the Nexus 6; life and it’s longevity, fucker (I’ll not truck with any ‘father’ rewrite bullshit).
The music is urgent and claustrophobic, moments of calm juxtaposed with moments of violence, almost like the film that inspired it. Samples introduce or litter the tracks, loosely setting the scene for the musical backdrop, roughly hanging lyrical themes that capture the oppressive feeling of the album.
God Of Biomechanics V1.5 was recorded using the same equipment that the band used to record the 2018 album, God Of Biomechanics, and mixes songs from their 2014 Self-Titled. These reworks, all titled after moments of characters from the original motion picture such as Deckard, LA Eyeworks and Wise Owl, form a bridge for the sequel Gods of Biomechanics 2.0 slated to appear at some point in the future.
The music is slamming industrial grind, that does recall the latter day works of the aforementioned Godflesh where the barking, almost staccato crunch of the heavy passages is offset by dizzying synths that call back to the beautiful, weeping Vangelis score of the movie.
suffocating, oppressive and heavily distorted vocals fit right at home in the seedy world of Philip K Dick’s reimagined tale…
Say what you will about the end result and whether it checks your Voight-Kampff test, but it is incredibly well thought out and put together. To make one Blade Runner themed album is one thing, to make a music career out of it is quite something else, as fans of Fear Factory will attest to. They don’t seem to have painted themselves into a corner yet and long may that continue.
I have often found that industrial fans tend to flock together so, if the idea of Filth Pig era Ministry’s murky sludge, the sound of hateful machines, clogged with rust, groans and squeals of relentless cold enslavement, mixed with Jesu’s expansive drone wrapped up in one of sci-fi’s oldest fascinations sets off your inner Asimov, then Mountain Of Smoke are definitely worth your time.
Personal highlights LA Eyeworks with it’s suffocating, oppressive and heavily distorted vocals fit right at home in the seedy world of Philip K Dick’s reimagined tale and the rush of Gaff finishes off the album in style. The only thing that would have made this an absolute slam dunk for me is if the album had signed off with ‘It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again who does?’.
Released after their recent cover’s album, Replicated, which I’ve yet to check out as it features one of my favourite Deftones tracks My Own Summer (Shove It), this has been a busy period for the band with their 2022 full length album Imprint already in the bag.
If they can maintain this productivity and keep their theme as consistent in terms of quality, then the sky is the limit for the band. They could even storm Eden and retake her.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden