Witch Mountain – “Psycho Animundi”



Don’t let this call to arms frighten you — this isn’t the genre you may remember from the days of Beavis & Butthead. For one thing, the tedious soloing and arena-rock choreography are gone, the gods be praised. Metal’s extremes are now the province of nerdy connoisseurs from all backgrounds, cultures, genders and ages, who steer the genre’s iconoclasm and this-one-goes-to-eleven attack in exciting new directions.

Out of this milieu emerges Witch Mountain, a Portland quartet of metal lifers and sensitive spirits who practice the dark arts of doom metal, the sub-genre that explores the musical foundation laid by Black Sabbath (in particular the creepy, creaky self-titled song from their 1970 debut album). Whereas others doom metal groups opt for pseudo-classical pomp or sludgy bass riffery, Witch Mountain keeps it raw and slooooow, as evidenced by the track “Psycho Animundi.” Also, I hear an artisanal, made-by-real-people ethos in Witch Mountain’s music that feels very Portland, metal or not.

Of course, Witch Mountain’s most unique element is Uta Plotkin, one of contemporary metal’s great female singers. She’s not above an occasional Cookie Monster growl, but her flights into Sandy Denny vocal territory make clear how she brings something very unusual to the doom metal table. Witch Mountain’s latest album, Mobile of Angels, finds the collision of Plotkin’s Britfolk-inflected soprano with the band’s sinister blues template creating new moods and dynamics for the band, if not quite achieving an easy synthesis. Thus it’s bittersweet that Plotkin has announced that she’s retiring amicably from Witch Mountain coincident with the album’s release. But then, these days a true metalhead follows her own path…

Mobile of Angels is out now on Profound Lore Records.