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Witch Mountain : Cauldron of the Wild

This album is a total continuation of Witch Mountain's sentimental blend of Doom Metal.

This, my friends, is the greatest Doom album of the year: 'Cauldron of the Wild' - the third full-length from the band from Oregon, with vocalist Uta Plotkin - is almost perfect. Their first proper release on the Canadian label Profound Lore follows the excellent 'South of Salem' (the label also re-issued that one) and this album is a total continuation of their sentimental blend of Doom Metal. I’ve wanted to review this musical piece ever since I got it, the day it was released if I remember correctly, but I decided to wait until I could find the appropriate words, and I'm glad I did.

I know that I'm a sucker for Doom Metal with female vocals but Plotkin is truly, truly unique. She has amazing pipes and she's a real powerhouse, perhaps the most talented singer in Metal right now. Seeing her live back in June was real bliss; sadly the crowd was sparse since Montréal is not really a good place for Doom, especially on Mondays... It was surprising how an amazing voice like hers came from such a calm and sweet, short woman! Her place is at the mic and nowhere else: she's a mesmerising frontwoman with natural charisma. Usually, she's going all blues berserk mode with high falsettos and slow romantic groovy drinking hymn vocals. But, sometimes, there are these strange harsh vocals, they’re definitely good, albeit unorthodox and surprising for this genre. Plotkin wrote all the lyrics and they are fucking great. Sometimes they deal with personal confessions, sometimes with strange dark stories. For example, the first track 'The Ballad of Lanky Rae' is about a strong tall woman who's the daughter of a demon. It's quite fun and I really like the lyricism of her words, it's definitely a part of the complete experience of Witch Mountain. Each song has a different touch and reading them was interesting (I added the lyrics to the MA page and it was a joy to do so, can't say the same about many artists). Her poetry can be amazing, sometimes simple but at the same time full of imagery. I like these lines from 'Veil of the Forgotten':

"We will win with patience cold in the stone. Gold, jade and blood, amethyst and bone."
"No teeth sink deeper than teeth of time so we just watch it fester."

Uta Plotkin has a real talent for lyrics and she transmits her passion with ease and class on stage. She conveys the same vibrant passion as Janis Joplin! But enough of Ms Plotkin!

During the 45 minutes that 'Cauldron of the Wild' lasts, we experience many different emotions. It can be 'fast-paced' Doom such as 'Beekeeper',and it can be very slow too like the last and strong song 'Never Know', which is a romantic bluesy ballad. The guitarist Rob Wrong, the main songwriter of the band, really shines throughout the record. His style mixes classic Iommi riffs, always the basis of Traditional and Stoner Doom, with a huge emphasis on bluesy Hendrix-like licks. There's even some Chandler-influenced fuzzy riffs and leads. Fortunately for the Doom purists, the Doom influences are the classic ones, so this album is safe from the modern influences of Post-Metal and Sludge. Even if there are weird moments like the aforementioned harsh vocals, these are minimal. If this album had been released during the heyday of Sleep, it would have been a classic today. The riffs are slow, undeniably heavy and bordering on the Stoner Metal style. There are no restraints in the leads, they're totally vibrant and remind me of some sort of psychedelic jam session where everyone is stoned on acid. Nathan Carson's drumming is top notch, classic Doom drumming, slow and without frills and defaults. The bass playing of Neal Munson could be higher in the mix and some cooler bass lines would have been nice, but the emphasis is clearly on the guitar and the vocals and that's fine in my book. Still, the songwriting and musicianship is simply excellent, without limits and never overplayed or technical: it's truly music for your emotions and your spirit, it has a touch of Americana and it's full of romantic dark stories.

The album length is perfect: 6 songs, none of them too long - the two last tracks, 'Aurelia' and 'Never Know', are the longest at around 10 minutes each. When the album is over, the music continues in your mind, which is proof of its worth. As the album art indicates, this cauldron is warm and full of a familiar magic potion, calling everyone in the area to taste its seductive wildness. This is the sort of music that needs to be played very loud with lots of booze...it's shack music: remove your freshly-muddied boots, kick back in your woollen socks and fill your cup with that potion - it feels right...everything will be alright!

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. The Ballad of Lanky Rae
2. Beekeeper
3. Shelter
4. Veil of the Forgotten
5. Aurelia
6. Never Know

Duration : Approx. 45 minutes

Visit the Witch Mountain bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-09-20 by Metantoine
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