This can be attributed in part to producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus the Bear), who expertly balances the band's blazing and highly melodic instrumentals without sacrificing the tough, unflinching core that makes them singular. The biggest change, however, comes from the band's decision to open up their songwriting process and put Paternoster's vocals front and centre, and it's a wise one. Her massive, soaring warble summons equal parts Kristin Hersh, Edith Piaf and Geddy Lee and is hugely emotive, whether plaintively castigating her own mortality on "Rose Mountain" or issuing a lover's plea on the album's showstopper, "Hopeless."
Rose Mountain could be the album that finally brings these hardworking punkers to a wider audience after nearly a decade of existence, and it would be well deserved. (Don Giovanni)