Releasing albums since 2001, but not gaining it’s steam until nearly ten years later, Portland, Oregon’s first doom metal band Witch Mountain have been a force to be reckoned with. After the departure of vocalist Uta Plotkin who did three incredible albums ‘South of Salem’, ‘Cauldron of the Wild’, and the masterpiece ‘Mobile of Angels’ with the band, many people were skeptical that the bands could continue. Like troopers though, Witch Mountain could not be kept down and were officially back in action after a hiatus that was only a few moths long. In this line up we have drummer/ band leader Nathan Carson, guitarist Rob Wrong (also a member of doom outfit ‘The Skull’), Justin Brown on bass, and the incredible Kayla Dixon on vocals who had previously been known for her work in the heavy metal band Demons Within. Dixon may have seemed like an odd choice at first, but it was quickly apparent that she had a range that not only matched her predecessors, she also has a voice that is leagues above a majority of modern music’s so called “best vocalists.” Now in 2018, after nearly three years of touring with bands such as Enslaved and Saint Vitus; Witch Mountain are set to release their fifth album which is self titled on May, 25 via Svart.
Midnight is the colossal opener of this LP. Starting with some tasty licks from Wrong, the stage is soon set for Dixon and her soulful yet eerie singing. Next up is a “Mechanical World” a cover by the band ‘Spirit.’ While the original is a bombastic piece of 60’s psychedelia, Witch Mountain have provided us with a more stripped down, more menacing sounding rendition that for my money is much more enjoyable than the original. “Hellfire” is the shortest song on the LP (2:32), but manages to be one of the strangest, yet not out of place songs the band have ever done with it’s acoustic guitars and piano! Longest tracks “Burn you Down” (7:42) and “Nighthawk” (14:19) are the highlights of this release. Both are carried by the gargantuan riffage of Wrong and both feature a strong Black Sabbath type plod from Carson and Brown who manage to keep things sounding interesting particularly Carson with his spot on Bill Ward inspired drumming with subtle changes here and there. “Nighthawk” in particular has Kayla’s best vocal performance to date as she doesn’t hold back her range one bit. We get the soul, the anguish, the death vocals, all in one song!
Witch Mountain are a band who continue to impress. They set a standard for doom metal with each release and somehow they keep managing to surpass it! This self titled release is no exception! This is easily the best Witch Mountain material to date and it also serves as an awakening. This is a new era, a new standard from the band and we need to all bow down to the awesomeness of it!