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MOUNT MORIAH — Miracle Temple

by Ryan Snyder

Since the release of their second album (and first on Merge Records) Miracle Temple, there’s been a coordinated movement afoot to anoint Mount Moriah as messiahs of a new country idiom that values regionalism over categorical centralism. From their charm ingly imperfect debut LP from the new partnership between a punk-rock singer and a Southern metal guitarist, they tempered an outside-in approach to country twang that offered enormous promise. It’s sound was like a steely-skied Sunday that only threatened rain, and the logical next step on Miracle Temple was for the bottom to either drop out or the sun to break through. Neither of those things really happens here, but the beauty of Miracle Temple is that it celebrates the sounds of the South without cementing itself within any single one. Yes, Heather McEntire’s honeyed vocals immediately entreat images of a young Dolly and except for “Miracle Temple Holiness” does she invoke her Bellafea bark, but there’s considerable antigravity at the center of the record that splays its chief influences. Consider the sequence of “Swannanoa” and “Rosemary,” songs that ruminate in their own ghostly scarcity, sympathetic to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” in tense and topic, but worlds away from the glowering melodrama of “Union Street Bridge” and the cosmopolitan juke of “Bright Light”. There is indeed promise fulfilled in Miracle Temple, just not the promise that many had expected.

75/100

Mount Moriah will perform at SECCA on Thursday for the opening night of Phuzz Phest.

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