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)
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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