The obscenely metal Witch Mountain use their lovely crystal fonts and blue colours to fool you into believing their new record is going to be chill. It is not: a doomy experience that feels like a culmination of their long ascent to the top of the genre, they're here joined by new singer Kayla Dixon, who apparently loves Judas Priest. Legend.
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Herein I will give props to Witch Mountain, a band I expected myself to not at all like. My doom preference is the stuff with the indecipherable skramz vocals, where the cleaner, more Sabbath-invoking material usually leaves me wanting more grit and pummel. Witch Mountain have come to kick my ass and tell me to grow up, and I appreciate it: their chunky guitar tones, mountain-scaling drums and burly low-end all lay the groundwork for a record in which new vocalist Kayla Dixon absolutely smashes it, offering one of doom’s most evocative and high-spirited performances in however long I’ve been alive.
“Midnight” is an absolute jam of wall-scraping stoner guitars and battling dynamics: where Dixon’s vocal is songful, mapping out mantras and stories, they’re met by furious, deathly growls that counterbalance the clarity. The staccato guitars of “Mechanical World” chug like they’re pushing the listener from place to place, eventually exploding into moments of melodic euphoria. Saint Vitus come to mind in a record that sits on the tension between harshness and thoughtfulness; at times, the record even retools into a strange, experimental one, with “Hellfire” offering a mix of acoustic picks, stabbed piano keys, melodramatic backing vocals and terse strings that wouldn’t be out of place on a Wrekmeister Harmonies record.
Fans of trad metal will be pleased to know Kayla Dixon loves Judas Priest and this band loves the old ways, too; they’re a perfect fit and they tell us all about it on “Nighthawk”, where their sleuthing riffs are accompanied by good solos and near symphonic backing vox, eventually devolving into a chuggy death metal mess and a pantomimic finale. I listened to it from start to finish and had a blast in every second -- maybe because the band did, too.
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