Witch Mountain – Cauldron of the Wild (Profound Lore)

Monday, 25th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Doom sure has become a far-reaching term, eh? Like, one could say that Candlemass are traditional doom, but someone like Pallbearer are neo doom, although that doesn’t make a great deal of sense since the style isn’t doing a very good job of re-inventing itself. Then you have a band like Portland, OR’s Witch Mountain, who have a down-on-the-bayou slant to them, even though they’re from the Pacific Northwest. Therefore, it all goes back to one singular word: Doom. (FYI: “Doom” is “mood” spelled backward.)

Witch Mountain were originally formed in 1997, but enjoyed a nine-year hiatus after the release of their Come the Mountain debut. When they decided to pick things up again, they grabbed singer Uta Plotkin and well, things have never quite been the same. Last year’s self-titled album made the doom fiends/critics go gonzo, and the same should apply for Cauldron of the Wild, which is getting a nice little promotional bump-up courtesy of Profound Lore.

Behind Plotkin (we’ll get to her in a moment) are fuzzed-out Sabbath riffs, most of which are drawn to a crawl. Yet, the air-tight rhythm section of Neal Munson and Nate Carter repeatedly throw these songs off course, with subtle time-changes, the occasional drum fill, and stop-start movements. This allows guitarist Rob Wrong (try to say his name five times fast) to keep his endless supply of Sleep-on-Sabbath riffs going, all the while Plotkin heaves her bountiful vocals like a stone-cold 70’s vocal siren. On songs like “Lanky Rae” and “Beekeeper,” Plotkin hits highs at the drop of a hat, but with a gritty tone and attitude that suggests she’s right out of the Southern rock old-school. This is none more evident on album highlight “Aurelia,” where Witch Mountain takes 11 minutes and change of doom and grinds it out at will.

The unique flavor and gusto of Plotkin’s voice gives Witch Mountain an almost unfair advantage over their doom contemporaries. The retread of ideas presented here are almost an afterthought given the band’s wily ability to give heavy rock doom a sideways angle. And when Cauldron of the Wild gets its rock on, it’s like you’re down south, watching these guys (and gal) open for the Allman Brothers.

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(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)