Svart Records – Out Now.
Female-fronted vintage-sounding bands have been on the rise for quite some time now so you would certainly be excused to think that Witch Mountain may just be another outfit eager to jump into this specific bandwagon.
The truth of the matter, however, is that this Oregon-based outfit has been performing blues-based heavy rock since 1997, a damn long time prior to any major label decided to invest its time and money in the said genre, and “Mobile Of Angels”, whose review you’re currently reading, is the band’s fourth full-length album to date.
With that in mind, let’s see what the ‘quartet’ has installed for us.
Just like Blues Pills, who are currently enjoying a healthy amount of interest by Retro Rock fans around the globe, Witch Mountain like their riffs to be simple and heavy and have a soft spot for the kind of sound that the mighty Tony Iommi first crafted for Black Sabbath in the early 70s.
Contrary to most them other like-minded bands, however, the tempo employed in the creation of the five compositions that are on offer here is much slower than you would expect and Rob Wrong’s soulful guitar themes and harmonies are clearly more inspired by heavy Blues rather than traditional heavy Rock/Metal.
It is this interesting combination together with Uta Plotkin’s emotionally-charged and intelligently/crafted vocals that make “Mobile Of Angels” such a surprising, impressive and thoroughly enjoyable musical offering!
This ‘perfection in simplicity’ approach that I described above is clearly expressed in the opening track “Psycho Animundi”.
Opening with a slow-paced, Sabbath-sounding riff, this eight and a half minute composition combines a healthy amount of different musical ideas but focuses in providing Uta Plotkin’s powerful vocals with enough space to stamp their authority and lead the proceedings.
Operating on a similar tempo, “Can’t Settle” is another heavy-riffed piece but one who’s Blues credentials are clearly displayed in the way that the main melodies on offer are presented and utilised.
The first real highlight of the album comes in the shape of “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour The Hymn)” – a ten minute moody piece which finds Plotkin utilising her full vocal range and, in doing so, raises the emotional value of the whole album while the surprising follow-up “Mobile Of Angels” finds the chanteuse working around haunting keyboard themes to create the darkest composition of the album.
Layered female vocals and Blues-based guitar harmonies are also the main ingredients behind the creation of the closing theme “The Shape Truth Takes”, however this song does stand out as a result of the beautiful melodic vocal theme featuring in its highly-addictive refrain.
I am not sure if you’ve already noticed but in one of the first few paragraphs of my review I placed the word ‘quartet’ within brackets.
The reason for that is that, as I was preparing my review for “Mobile Of Angels”, word came out that Uta Plotkin would be leaving the band following the release of this album – a truly baffling decision, considering how integral her personal contribution has been.
While the remaining members of Witch Mountain are currently pondering what the next step regarding their musical career should be, what we left with is a beautifully-crafted soulful album whose emotional quality helps it transcend styles and genres thus making it both and attractive and universally appealing offering.
Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)
On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)
Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)
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