That you're in the presence of a metallic ensemble alternately raging and lumbering about the landscape, glowering and pissed off, is evident from the intro chords of Witch Mountain's Mobile of Angels no sooner than in the first moments, Psycho Animundi, of the five lengthy cuts. The quartet (plus Billy Anderson sitting in on piano, guitar, and production) is a group that could be placed within the desmesnes of Trouble, Cathedral, Candlemass, Pentagram, and other Sabbathy and semi-Sabbathy non-thrash non-speed units dwelling outside what I like to dub the 'strangled rat' (ululating screams) / 'strangled bear' (guttural growls) syndromes. I guess we have acts like Mercyful Fate and Amon Amarth to thank for those, and God knows there are tons of 'em.
Though Witch Mountain is in many ways up to the minute, their sound reminds me of when Metal Blade, Earache, and other labels decided to finally get their shit together and quit putting out weenie alt-arena shlaga along with the pretty good true metal years ago, the era when Century Media arose and things started to get dead nuts serious, thank Gawd…or Satan…or Odin…or whomever's presently the Big Death/Black/Speed/Techno/Etmetalcetera Cheese right now. Probably the reason for the group's longevity (17 years and counting) is that it hasn't been raped and ruined by corporate labels, does what it damn well pleases, books its own tours, manages itself, and owns its copyrights. That state of affairs has seen the band through a number of U.S. tours, as well as two in Europe, a plethora of fests, and then a recently ended journey through America and Canada behind esteemed Hawkwinder Nik Turner. Previously, they've hit the stage with Blue Oyster Cult, Diamond Head, and the aforementioned Pentagram and Candlemass.
The music here is stately despite its overriding doominess, The Shape Truth Takes becoming darkly magisterial. The emphasis is on songs with slow but relentless demonic tread, but there are a number of guitar leads, and singer Ula Plotkin alternates between recitation and wail, one woman among very few in the entire trade. At some point, I guess this kind of fare was termed 'stoner metal' or some such, though I fail to see why the specialization arose. I was there at the birth (Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, Gun, Capt. Beyond, Dust, etc.) and, shit, we and they were all always stoned. I caught Rhino and Mike Pinera sitting in with Trapeze at the Whiskey and those guys were rrrrrrrrripped (just ask the magnificent Glenn Hughes, who's now regretting it all). I was pretty well looped too. So were my buddies. As was the entire fucking house. So…'stoner metal'? Seems internally redundant to me.
I'm guessing audiences are still thusly inclined, though; sure seems that way, judging from the Cradle of Filth, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, Faith or Fear, and other DVDs I have. And this sludgy, swampy, brimstoney—peppered with passages almost Elizabethan, I must say—foursome has MUCH in common with the denizens of the day. Leigh Stephens, the distortion-besotted guitarist of Blue Cheer (ironically a non-druggie, poor bastard), would be right at home with the ensemble, as much so as Raging Slab perhaps. I'm ambivalent about chix in metal (I mean…Lizzie Borden??? C'mon, get real f'crissakes!) but find little if anything to bitch about in Ms. Plotkin—though, if my info sources are correct, she's exeunting after this release, Rob Wong nabbing the vocal chores. Thus, enjoy her work here while you can, maybe even pondering the fact that a hell of a lot of the bird on a wire sonorities from male metal voxhedz could easily be called 'counter-tenor'; in other words: female. Heh! Metal sure crams the 'iron' back in 'irony', doesn't it? Regardless, Mobile of Angels fulfills all your vitaminic, sonic, and catablastic MDR (Metal Daily Requirements). Indulge. Don't stint yourself.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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