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Witch Mountain - "South Of Salem" (CD)

Witch Mountain - "South Of Salem" CD cover image

"South Of Salem" track listing:

1. Wing Of The Lord
2. Plastic Cage
3. South Sugar
4. End Game
5. Hare's Stare
6. End Game (Slight Return)

Reviewed by on June 26, 2011

"Inspired drumming, soulful guitar solos and gorgeous vocals separate Witch Mountain from the rest of the Sabbath imitators on 'South Of Salem.'"

Imagine, if you will, Black Sabbath with Grace Slick replacing Ozzy Osbourne behind the microphone, and you have a pretty good idea of what Portland, Oregon-based rockers Witch Mountain sound like on their latest album, "South Of Salem." Adding a female voice to doom adds a warmth that sends the songs spinning in new directions, even when the instrumentation has some by-the-numbers moments.

Singer Uta Plotkin's vocals range from nearly spoken-word on tracks like "South Sugar," to the soaring high vocals on "Wing Of The Lord." There's a soulfulness to her tone that accentuates the blues beginnings of the doom genre in all kinds of wonderful ways.

Guitarist Rob Wrong's riffs are thick and meaty, with an appealing looseness in his playing that's especially obvious on "Plastic Cage," as his guitar part snakes around Plotkin's vocals. His wah-wah-soaked solo on "End Game" is pure brilliance. You practically feel the strings digging into his fingers.

Drummer Nate Carson's performance also stands out, with the kind of jazzy looseness that defined Bill Ward's style on early Sabbath tracks like "The Wizard." Check out the middle of "Hare's Stare" for some truly inspired drumming.

As good as the album is, it would've been made that much better with the addition of some faster-moving material. I get that this is doom, but each and every song moves at the same snail's pace, with guitar solos being the only thing that adds much velocity. Then again, it's rare that a band can imbue slow tracks with as much energy as Witch Mountain does.

Inspired drumming, soulful guitar solos and gorgeous vocals separate Witch Mountain from the rest of the Sabbath imitators on "South Of Salem." It's an excellent doom metal effort, available as a pay-what-you-can download on the band's bandcamp page.

Highs: "Wing Of The Lord," "Plastic Cage" and "Hare's Stare."

Lows: Little variation in tempo.

Bottom line: An excellent doom metal disc that adds soulful female vocals to the mix.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)