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Witch Mountain - "Cauldron Of The Wild" (CD)

Witch Mountain - "Cauldron Of The Wild" CD cover image

"Cauldron Of The Wild" track listing:

1. Lanky Rae
2. Beekeeper
3. Shelter
4. Veil Of The Forgotten
5. Aurelia
6. Never Know

Reviewed by on June 17, 2012

"Combining doom sludge with soulful female vocals works well on most of Witch Mountain's 'Cauldron Of The Wild.'"

After releasing the superb "South Of Salem" last year, Portland Oregon-based doom act Witch Mountain has returned with "Cauldron Of The Wild." To be sure, the band still displays plenty of strengths — first among them, the powerful Grace Slick-like vocals of singer Uta Plotkin — but unlike "South Of Salem," which was captivating from the first note to the last, "Cauldron Of The Wild" feels overly long, even though there are only six tunes total.

The disc starts out strong, with the blues-infused "Lanky Rae" giving Plotkin a chance to shine particularly brightly amid the feedbacky guitar work of Rob Wrong. Wrong's solos are things of dark beauty, with a Tony Iommi-like ability to find just the right note to send a shiver down your spine.

Plotkin's greatest moment on the album is "Shelter," a track that features her singing against a sparse, undistorted guitar and drums, though all votes for the psychedelic sounds of "Beekeeper" will be counted. Wrong's best guitar part is definitely the slightly more energetic than the usual Sabbath sludge riff that drives "Veil Of The Forgotten."

Unfortunately, after a splendidly sparse start, the nearly 12-minute "Aurelia" begins to drag along despite Wrong's effort to spice things up with some wild solos. Following that up with the near-silence that begins the nine-minute "Never Know" wasn't the best decision and Plotkin's vocals feel a bit flat.

The rhythm section — as it did on "South Of Salem" — keeps the mid-tempo sludge from turning into monotony. Nate Carson's drumming is particularly impressive on "Lanky Rae" and "Beekeeper," and there are moments on "Never Know," where it's the only thing keeping the listener from nodding off (and I think that may have been the band's plan).

Combining doom sludge with soulful female vocals works well on most of Witch Mountain's "Cauldron Of The Wild." A couple of missteps at the end keep it from matching the heights of "South Of Salem," but it's still a more-than-worthy addition to the doom canon.

Highs: "Lanky Rae," "Shelter" and "Veil Of The Forgotten."

Lows: "Aurelia" and "Never Know."

Bottom line: A better than average doom album, with one of the better female vocalists in metal.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)