My first impression of Body Void’s debut LP, Ruins (Crown & Throne / Dry Cough) was that this album is both painful and punishing to get through. But in the very best way. Continue reading
Six years after the Jex Thoth debut, it seems that the whole “Occult Rock” thing is now calming down to the extent that we can talk about a new Doom-flavoured band with female vocals on its own merits without losing all sense of perspective. An ideal time, then, for Witch Mountain to continue taking Black Sabbath into new realms of emotional depth and maturity.
On first listen, Witch Mountain’s music is at the friendlier end of the Doom spectrum – groovy riffs, clean vocals, mid-paced tempos that never hit the punishing slows or crushing low-end that the genre is capable of at its nastiest. Things change slightly during the middle-section of ‘Can’t Settle’, when the pace slows and the vocals take on a harsher aspect, but it still has more in common with Witchcraft than Primitive Man. Unlike most of their groovy peers, however, they tend towards longer songs, Mobile Of Angels’ (Profound Lore) five tracks averaging around ten minutes each.
What really sets Witch Mountain apart from other groove-based Doom or “Stoner” bands, and what makes them worthy of a label like Profound Lore, is the sense of emotional sincerity and power. These are not just fun collections of catchy riffs, there’s a genuine weight to them, a weight which comes not from distortion or effects-pedals but from really meaning it. A big part of that comes from Uta Plotkin’s vocals. Though initially seeming to lack the blood-and-thunder heaviness that you might expect from a Doom band, they reveal a depth and richness that goes far beyond that. Vulnerability is a rare commodity in Metal, but all the more valuable for it. Although different musically, I was frequently put in mind of Karyn Crisis’ clean vocals in terms of emotional expression.
Mobile Of Angels is not the most extreme or challenging album you’ll hear all year, but nor is it another fluffy “stoner” album with catchy grooves and nothing else. Rather, it is a personal, reflective set of songs that manage to be both accessible and moving, and comes recommended for those who want a bit more emotional depth to their Metal.
Not everybody has the attention span for songs that boil over the four-minute mark and when done badly, this type of music can sometimes be a chore to listen to. Wo Fat is a threesome from Texas whose songs have become longer and longer with each release, while their number of tracks has become shorter. Boasting a stoner-rock sound, with some doom and psychedelic tendencies, The Conjuring (Small Stone) is the bands fifth studio album since their 2003 beginnings, and like its two predecessors it is made up of only five tracks and yet consists of over 40 minutes worth of music. Mostly a solid listen, The Conjuring does however have some weak points that let it down.
Starting with the slow burning, southern tones of title-track ‘The Conjuring,’ it’s clear from the off that riffs-a-plenty are once again going to feature here and so they do throughout. ‘Read The Omens,’ one of the shorter tracks, is also one of the best; its upbeat and quick-tempo start continuing to remain throughout, while the excellent ‘Beggars Bargain’ ups both the southern beat and creativity even more. The Conjuring however is not all imaginative gold as ‘Pale Rider From The Ice’ suffers from dull moments as does closing number ‘Dreamwalker’, but on a larger scale. Weighing in at 17 minutes long, the final track of the album doesn’t have enough substance to justify its length and so the result is one of indifference.
The Conjuring doesn’t exactly bring anything new or exciting to the stoner-doom-rock genre, but it isn’t a bad effort within it. Fans of the band will be pleased with the new output, even if it doesn’t transcend their previous efforts and if you’re new to Wo Fat and enjoy this type of music, The Conjuring is worth a listen.
Or at least most of it is.