New Haven’s Mountain Movers are lifers. Going on 15-years-strong, this quartet is a zonked-out shredfest that flings earworms as readily as they bomb out fried-psych solos. Their latest, World What World, is a dynamic gut-punch filtered through a spectral prism, searching for a solid place to stand in a world that may no longer exist. The journey never ends, though, and inside the fuzz-infused walls of World What World, we push on.
As soon as the popping bassline of “Final Sunset” runs a few laps in the blistering heat, lead guitarist Kryssi Battalene starts spitting gasoline. Feedback shrapnel spews from the PSF-soaked riffs as she spins her own cache of guitar alchemy into a hypnotic sonic web. With an airtight rhythm section of drummer Ross Menze, bassist Rick Omonte, and Dan Greene’s rhythm guitar backing, there’s ample foundation for Mountain Movers’ intricate, angular blueprints to come to life. “Final Sunset” doesn’t just rip, it grooves without hesitation.
Every aspect of World What World is dialed into the nth degree, but there’s no shine here. Polished surfaces would ruin the frayed grind that elevates these songs. “Haunted Eyes” is a hollow, ghostly ballad dripping with granular poison, offering just enough of a breather before straight back into the fire on “Staggering With a Lantern.” Slow-motion solo excursions push the band into surprising directions, the rhythmic howl of Battalene’s guitar the guiding light for everyone to follow. It’s a soaring piece that unfolds at half speed, completely enveloping listeners in stinging sludge before dissolving like flesh across time.
When Dan Greene croons, “Trying to find my way back to the world,” on the chorus of “Way Back To The World,” it lands. Navigating this mid-pandemic-world that a huge portion of the population has decided is a post-pandemic-world is gnarly and unforgiving. When Greene hollers out lines like, “Even the trees have their days when they die and go away,” and, “Watch the grass start to grow, then you know it’s time to go,” before descending into the most cathartic, mind-melting twin guitar solos I’ve heard in a long time, it hits bone.
In a desolate sea where it seems like the modus operandi is every person for themselves, World What World searches for a place to fit in when that mold doesn’t work for all of us. There aren’t easy answers, and Mountain Movers grind through that unease to offer up loud, raucous vistas where there’s at least a temporary respite from the desolation. Album closer “Flock of Swans” peels the wallpaper with further guitar exorcisms, shining a blinding light for all the other wary travels trying to navigate this new, relentless landscape. Maybe getting carried away by a flock of swans isn’t such a bad outcome after all.
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