Portland’s doom pioneers Witch Mountain, were formed by core duo Rob Wrong (guitar), and Nathan Carson (percussion) in 1997. Joined by current bassist Justin Brown in 2015, and Kayla Dixon who replaced beloved vocalist Uta Plotkin, Witch Mountain released their self-titled album in May of this year. Written after extensive touring with the likes of Danzig, Witch Mountain has simultaneously concretized their position as one of the most solid American doom metal bands, and stamped Dixon’s unforgettable vocals upon the world.
While containing only five tracks, with the exception of “Hellfire,” all are quite lengthy, such as the almost fourteen-and-a-half-minute long closing track, “Nighthawk.” One of the major highlights of the album are Dixon’s vocals, which add serious depth to the overall tone of Witch Mountain. Fierce and dark, she can really fucking sing, and is a prefect pairing with the rest of the band. To say she holds her own would be a massive understatement. Throughout the album, Dixon switches effortlessly between metal growls (that are equal parts impressive and intimidating) and deep soulful wailing, displaying a remarkable range. Her multi-layered vocals in each track are at once melodic, and throaty, and make for a uniquely striking contrast within each track. Mixed with the sheer power and musical compatibility of Wrong, Carson, and Brown, Dixon takes Witch Mountain one step further along the path of doom which sounds best turned way the hell up.
For me, it really is the second half of the album that grabs my attention (and don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say there isn’t a lot to love in the first half). “Hellfire,” by far the shortest track, stands out in stark contrast from its three predecessors. Carrying a much slower, softer tone than the majority of the album, “Hellfire” features some of Dixon’s most bluesy, sultry vocals. Paired with a rare acoustic guitar and piano, this track proves that Witch Mountain are purveyors of more than just awesome, gloomy rock. Picking up where the likes of “Midnight and “Burn You Down” left off, “Nighthawk” in its length encapsulates everything great about Witch Mountain. Heavy distorted chords, blaring, short lived solos, and even a bit of spoken word – which, to no surprise, Dixon also sounds great at – “Nighthawk,” like Witch Mountain, combusts with creative energy.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson