Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Witch Mountain: South of Salem (2011)

If you've read anything about Oregon's Witch Mountain, you may have thought, "Great, another female-fronted doom band." Whether you meant that as a good thought or a bad thought, you ought to reconsider them entirely.

Putting a woman in front of a doom band is usually a good idea, as higher-register voices stand out against the heavy grooves, giving balance and contrast to the music. That's why Ozzy worked so well for Sabbath. And sometimes a female-fronted doom metal band sounds just like you might expect: a female-fronted doom metal band. No suprises there. But Witch Mountain's new vocalist Uta Plotkin gives an entirely different spin on things.

She sings with soul, making the band equal parts Joplin and Sabbath. Like Iron Butterfly's almost-appearance at Woodstock, it feels like Witch Mountain should have been there, leveling the audience.

The old-school rock vibe is straight out of that heyday of rock music, and has a solid analog production to complete that sense. But it's transformed by crushing heaviness. In short, this is the absolute best proto-metal album that was never released when it should have been, 40-plus years ago.

The Verdict: South of Salem was released as a pay-what-you-want digital download on their Bandcamp, so it's as free as you want it to be. Its value is much greater than free. A truly unique sound. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. Everyone's getting very excited about this. I really want to like it every time I read a good review. It just hasn't grabbed me yet. Maybe it's one of those records that will suddenly click for me. Or maybe it's another Christian Mistress, which I still can't see the fuss about. We'll see!

  2. This is great and Christian Mistress is even better!

    You need to light a spliff and toke liberally to the opening riffage of "Desert Rose." Full volume. it made a believer out of me! It positively CRAWLS through your ears and into your brain.