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.