Formed under the gray skies and misty mountains of Portland, Oregon in 1997, Witch Mountain consisted of Rob Wrong (guitar and vocals), Dave Hoopaugh (bass), and Nate Carson (drums) until July 2009 when planets aligned, the veil between our world and the kingdom of the Old Ones was lifted, and through a humming transdimensional portal walked new lead vocalist Uta Plotkin.
2011 saw the release of Doom Metal Band Witch Mountain’s second full-length album, South of Salem. It is a dark godsend to rock that opens with thirty-five seconds of guitar and bass that rise like Man-Thing from the swamp until Carson’s drums kick in and Plotkin’s Ann Wilson / Artemis vocals swoop down on the “Wing of the Lord.” Wrong’s guitar solo is the soundtrack to the battle of St. Michael and Satan. Carson and Hoopaugh’s rhythm is the war chant of ten thousand Mordor orcs.
And that’s just the first track.
“Plastic Cage” is a tale of a woman discovering a deep inner well of tremendous power and unleashing it on those who have earned her wrath. Plotkin’s wails on it are the calls of sirens luring ancient mariners to their watery graves. “South Sugar” is a wicked track. Hoopaugh’s bass is the sound of Kali’s footsteps as she dances across the cosmos. Carson’s cymbal work is the sound of the temple bells around her ankles, and if the guitar solo is Wrong, may it never be Right. Plotkin kisses off a lover after letting him know she can’t take any more of his philandering.
In “End Game,” Plotkin just doesn’t kiss off a lover; she caves in his skull with an axe she found in a Cimmerian tomb. She gets “straight to the point” and refuses to go back into the labyrinth, take the Minotaur’s hand, and play the torturous love game again. She’s “willing to take on all pain” and “would rather fuck than make up” than drag out a dried-up decade-long end game relationship any longer. Her bandmates flatten everything around her to emphasize her point. This is the song you want playing as you drive off with your toothbrush and your dog while your ex wonders what just happened.
Then there’s “Hare’s Stare” – 12:28 of frightening, mania-inducing, spirit-summoning rock conjured from sheet music found in H.P. Lovecraft’s basement. The song breaks down near the three-minute mark into a chant of “Seize the light!” that encourages us not to turn a blind eye to things we’d rather ignore (i.e. suffering, pain, the “blood on our sleeve”).
Witch Mountain admits in “Hare’s Stare” that they may already be lost to the doom lurking beyond the sunset. They tell us that such forces must be stopped and that we, the ones who would rather not admit that shadow in our bedroom closet has an unnatural shape, may be able to save ourselves. If we follow their map, drawn by these four metal warriors on papyrus from the celestial court of Osiris, to south of Salem, we may be able to see the light and prevail.
Download this album now. You can name your price for it at witchmountain.bandcamp.com. They do not accept souls. I think they already have amassed plenty.
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Nik Havert is a writer, DJ, harmonica player, martial arts instructor, comic book publisher, crime fighter,music lover, cult movie enthusiast, and modern day Renaissance man. He hopes to shark cage dive sometime in the next few years and enjoys travel and good natural root beer.
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