THE DEMO CORNER
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1. Wing of the Lord
2. Plastic Cage
3. South Sugar
4. End Game
5. Hare’s Stare
6. End Game (Slight Return)
Total playing time: 38:32
Release Date: April 9, 2011
Label: Mountastic Records
Witch Mountain - South of Salem
November 28, 2011
The state of Oregon has proven to be fertile ground for some of this country’s best doom metal bands. Of course, even the hotbeds of any music scene will provide some great bands that few outside of the area know about, and such is the case with Witch Mountain.
Witch Mountain was actually formed in the late 90’s and released an album in 2001 called Come the Mountain. They took a break for a few years and reformed in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2009 when the momentum for the band began to build. That was when Uta Plotkin became the band’s full time vocalist, and since then, they have been steadily gaining recognition in the Pacific Northwest. Their second album South of Salem was released this year, albeit as a vinyl and download only release.
The Witch Mountain sound has all of the doom metal elements shared by their contemporaries in YOB, Sleep and Earth. Where Witch Mountain stands out is its incorporation of blues style riffs, which complement Plotkin’s vocal delivery. From the opening strains of “Wing of the Lord,” the talent and songwriting abilities of Witch Mountain are evident, with guitarist Rob Wrong providing a nice blend of blues and doom metal riffs, the rhythm section of bassist Dave Hoopaugh and drummer Nathan Carson providing the pulse for which the music’s timing is set, and Plotkin providing soul piercing vocals. The songs themselves are not definitive in time, but each song is definitely worth a few listens. “South Sugar” is one of the highlights on an album that has many of them, as the song provides the best example of Plotkin’s vocal range to a point where one could be mistaking Witch Mountain for a warped blues band. “Hare’s Stare” is the longest song on the album, clocking in just under the 13 minute mark, but Witch Mountain meets this challenge with aplomb, though their best work is in the general range of the 7-8 minute mark.
South of Salem is Witch Mountain’s contribution to the ever growing Oregon doom metal scene, and is also one of the most unique. It is hardly a surprise that months after the album’s release that Profound Lore Records has recently signed the band. Certainly, Witch Mountain deserves the attention they get, and South of Salem is audio proof of just how good they are right now. The potential for even greater things is within reach.