On their fifth and self-titled LP (Svart), Witch Mountain are trying to decide if they’re the most melodic Doom Metal act or the heaviest Blues band currently on the planet. Blues informed riffage has always been a part of Doom, and we dearly thank Black Sabbath for that contribution, but many a modern practitioner have ditched tradition in favor of harsher noise. Witch Mountain is not about modern convention, but about sticking with tried and true basics.
But before you scoff and dismiss Witch Mountain, know that they’re not simply dredging up old riffs and groove. They may have five full-lengths, but Witch Mountain has been cranking out the thunder for over 20 years. And yes, that type of longevity usually calls for lineup modifications and Witch Mountain has added the assistance of bassist Justin Brown of Lamprey and twenty-three-year-old vocal phenom Kayla Dixon. Dixon’s range varies from grunting lows and angelic highs intermittently all throughout the epic and crushing ‘Nighthawk.’ Again, from a twenty-three-year-old. At that age, I was just about finishing up college and drinking malt liquor. And the fact the I still enjoy the occasional Olde English 800 is not the point, Dixon clearly has her life together while I am still working on myself.
Songs like the sinister and chilling ‘Burn You Down’ also serve as a showcase for the dynamic Dixon whose tuneful and upfront performance acts are the right pairing for the baleful riffs underneath. It’s probably the first time since Candlemass in which my favorite aspect of a Doom record is the vocals. And coming second to that performance is how Witch Mountain never gets stale and the songs even those of the fourteen-minute variety hardly waste any notes. Again, this can be chalked up to the veteran savvy of founding members Nathan Carson (drums) and Rob Wrong (guitar). Wrong certainly makes his presence known with precision, but never overly flashy solos on ‘Midnight’ and ‘Burn You Down.’
Even with a twenty-year proven and tested resume, I am now even more excited than ever about what’s to come for Witch Mountain.