May 21, 2018 Witch Mountain – Witch Mountain (Album Review)
Doom Metal is one of the more solid standing subgenres in music out there and a strong female vocal presence is always a powerful bonus. For the past 20 years, despite line-up changes, Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain has steadily carried a very bright spotlight playing alongside some of the best of the best including a tour with Danzig. Back in their origin in 1997, core members, Guitarist Rob Wrong and Drummer Nate Carson, set out the basic Doom structure and tied it together with some dynamic vocals from original Vocalist Uta Plotkin, whose departure in 2014 brought in Kayla Dixon who has really grown into her own at such a young age. After getting over a tough milestone, Witch Mountain picked up Bassist Justin Brown and with a solid ground to stand on once again, they are set to release a promising new, self-titled album on Friday, May 25, 2018 through Svart Records.
After a good submergence into some slower-paced Doom bands, depending on actual tempo and originality, one can get lost in a sea of lackluster and stagnancy. In the case of Witch Mountain quite the opposite is true, as Kayla’s vocals alone range from bluesy to serene to heavy scream intensity, which provides a creative and enticing energy that is only further enhanced by the trance yet free-flowing guitar-stylings and simple yet elegant beats. This album seems to play out as a very intense Doom mood enhancement to an otherwise plain Jane sort of day.
The album only has 5 tracks in its entirety but spans about thirty-five minutes, because the treat at the end is one fourteen-minute-long song titled “Nighthawk.” Every great moment found in Witch Mountain is entertained in this tune in one form or another, making it is perhaps the best track on the collection. For risk-taking, Witch Mountain has succeeded in the end as it’s not easy to maintain interest in a super-long song, but some of the greats have done it such as Iron Maiden and Insomnium.
As for the other four tracks with fun yet simplistic titles – “Midnight,” “Mechanical World,” “’Burn You Down,” and “Hellfire” – the wrath of Kayla’s vocals once again remains strong. She was basically born into music, and although she’s barely been existent on this planet for more than twenty years, she has quite the experience under her belt and her skills, along with talent, go well beyond her years. Some of the most intricate guitar work happens in “Burn You Down,” which builds with great intensity from start to finish. “Hellfire” is a calming track of serenity in its irony and the listener immediately succumbs to the trance it puts them in; it almost has a Jazz infused with Blues style as well that feeds into the souls of all who listen.
To further summarize what makes a band like Witch Mountain worthy of attention, it must be said that starting with a live experience is not a bad way to introduce oneself, as it becomes immediately apparent that the vocals in the band take extreme effort and concentration mixed with the correct intensity to pull off. The rest of the magic comes from the songwriting, which is on a deep and classy level, purifying the listener’s experience into a soothing entrapment. For anyone in the mood for some high-class Doom Metal, Witch Mountain satisfies every need and then some. That is why CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.