Witch Mountain: Cauldron of the wild
12/09/12 || gk
Witch Mountain’s album from last year “South of salem” came after a ten year hiatus from the band and promptly became a critical success. The band’s bluesy, southern tinged doom found a lot of fans but it left me indifferent and wondering what the fuss was all about. A year later the band is back with their third album “Cauldron of the wild” and I have to say, this is some fantastic music.
Album opener “The ballad of lanky rae” has this slow burning bluesy edge and
patient heaviness to it that grows and grows on you till the words and music are embedded in your brain. Beekeeper has vocalist Uta Plotkin going for a low, raspy voice for the chorus and it works superbly, offsetting the clean, high pitched and almost folk vocals of the verses and adding some heaviness to the music. Things are off to a pretty great start with the first two songs but the real highlights of the album are yet to come. “Shelter” starts with an epic solo from guitarist and main man Rob Wrong but then settles down into a smoky rhythm with occasional bursts of loud guitar playing. Plotkin’s voice is front and center here being bluesy and subdued initially but by the time of the second verse takes complete and utter control of the song. The song builds to a climax in the last two minutes with Plotkin’s passionate vocals matching the music as it gets aggressive and upbeat before ending with another tasteful and perfectly placed solo.
The album closes with the superb Never know and this song should really tell you if “Cauldron of the wild” is for you or not. The initial half of the song is soft and bluesy with Plotkin’s plaintive vocals talking about a former lover and it is the vocal melody that really drives the song with minimal instrumentation backing her. Around the half way mark, when the first big guitar riff hits and Plotkin belts out a passionate and powerful yell, the song becomes special. Another superb bluesy lead by Wrong ups the ante while that rhythm section is just so solid that it gives Wrong the freedom to really go for it with his soloing. This is probably the closest the band comes to the blues on the album and “Never know” is just a fantastic song.
The star of the show here is undoubtedly Uta Plotkin. Her voice is strong and she can do the whole low and meditative singing style while also effortlessly scaling heights. She has a powerful voice and knows just when to use it. The interplay between bass player Neal Munson and drummer Nate Carson is damn impressive here too. They provide a solid foundation for Wrong’s slow and heavy riffs to sit on. Also, Rob Wrong’s solos right through this album are just perfect. They fit beautifully with the songs and help in creating a very cool dynamic between the riffs and Plotkin’s vocals.
Much of the bands doom comes from a combination of classic Sabbath era riffing mixed with the blues when it comes to the structuring of the song with some slight nods to southern rock. Imagine Govt. Mule playing Black Sabbath songs with Grace Slick on vocals and you’ll come sort of close to what Witch Mountain does. The songs are generally slow paced but there’s an undeniable x factor at work here that ensures the songs never get boring or even monotonous. “Cauldron of the wild” is essential for doom metal fans but if you like female fronted heavy metal of any sort, then chances are you’ll find plenty to like here.
- Released: 2012
- Label: Profound Lore
- Website: Witch Mountain Bandcamp
- Uta Plotkin: vocals
- Rob Wrong: guitars
- Neal Munson: bass
- Nate Carson: drums
- 01. The ballad of Lanky Rae
- 02. Beekeeper
- 03. Shelter
- 04. Veil of the forgotten
- 05. Aurelia
- 06. Never Know