It’s been a long wait, but the first Lord Mountain LP has finally been unleashed upon the world. The Oath, released on January 20 of this year, builds on the promise that Lord Mountain displayed way back in 2016 when they released their self-titled debut EP. Fans who dug the band’s first output will not be disappointed with the record as it continues to display that healthy mix of doom metal sensibilities with classic heavy metal trappings. It’s an impressive debut that has proven well worth the wait and anyone that stuck with the band over the years will be thrilled to hear the group spend about 36 minutes dropping the anvil of doom down on their heads.
Since forming in Santa Rosa, California in 2014, Lord Mountain put out that debut EP in 2016 and a split with Mesmer in 2017 before disappearing for several years. In 2020, the band reemerged with the single “The Last Crossing,” which whetted fans’ appetites for a welcome return. Earlier this year, fans got it on The Oath. I recently caught up with vocalist/guitarist Jesse Swanson to discuss the band’s long-awaited killer debut.
First off, how did Lord Mountain get started? How did the band meet and what made you guys want to start a doom band together?
Jesse: I had been putting together some riffs and jamming with some local drummers. Andy [Chism, bass] and I work together and we’d discussed the possibility of getting together for a music project. He played guitar as well and considered picking up bass. Sean [Serano, guitar] was a friend of ours and he and I eventually started playing a bit. Andy joined on bass and after a few jams with other drummers we found Pat [Moore].
How did you guys get into doom metal in the first place and who were some of the important bands that got you into the style? I definitely hear Sabbath, Candlemass, and Pentagram in your songs at different points.
Jesse: My parents had a crate of old Sabbath records I started digging through, probably [in the] early 80’s. I was getting into Ozzy and was really into the Randy Rhoads stuff. The Sabbath records were really cool but I was more into the ’80s sound at the time. After being mainly into death metal in the ’90s, I started discovering bands like Candlemass, Saint Vitus, and Reverend Bizarre.
What’s the lyric writing process like? What do you try to do with the words to a Lord Mountain song?
Jesse: I don’t really consider lyrical content until we have the song finished and pretty tight. I read a lot, so there’s always a well of inspiration to draw from.
What was the writing/recording process like for the debut? Were there any challenges to getting that first one done and what did you learn from the process that you’ll take to future recordings?
Jesse: Most of the songs on The Oath had been written and performed years before we recorded them. We decided to go back to Harry Gale (Route 44 studio), who had recorded our EP. Having worked with him before, he knew what we were about and what we wanted to accomplish. It was a very smooth and efficient process.
I wanted to ask about the lyrical and musical inspiration behind a few of the singles. What’s the origin behind “The Oath?” That’s my favorite track that I’ve heard from you guys so far!
Jesse: The opening riff was kinda inspired by Pagan Altar. They’ve definitely been a big influence. Lyrically, the song is about willingness to fight and die for a cause one does not fully understand. It uses more of a medieval battle scene to illustrate a concept prevalent throughout history.
How about the story behind “Well of Fates?” That’s another killer one!
Jesse: “Well of Fates” is a song about the Norns, the Norse web of fate and those who weave it. I felt with [the] power of this song, it would be a perfect opener for the album.
Overall, I found the album to have a really nice variety, which can be hard for a debut release. You guys mix it up really well between songs and even on the same songs. How important is that diversity in sounds for you when putting together a record?
Jesse: Yeah we try to mix up tempos and add diversity when possible. I feel like it makes songs a little more interesting when you can take it in different directions. Our sound has definitely evolved over the years and this album reflects a bit of where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Who did the cover for the new album? I really dig the framing around it and the central image is really simple yet powerful. How much direction did you give them?
Jesse: I did the painting for the central image as well as the drawing on the back myself. The layout was put together by King Volume records.
Lastly, what’s next for Lord Mountain? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Jesse: We have an album release show February 4th, then I’m looking to get back to writing some new material. Hopefully we’ll be able to play more shows this year and possibly have a new album in 2024.
Photo at top: The Oath album cover.