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Witch Mountain > Come the Mountain > Reviews > gasmask_colostomy
Witch Mountain - Come the Mountain

It comes slowly - 69%

gasmask_colostomy, December 17th, 2018

Over the years, Witch Mountain have had two goes at making it work, of which the second stint is decidedly the choicest. Not only did the return to the fray with South of Salem in 2011 include the entrancing vocals of Uta Plotkin, it also streamlined the album back to a healthy six cuts, which might have been a positive feature of Come the Mountain if it had been employed here. However, the Oregon four-piece were 10 years younger and dumber, as well as this debut album being 25 minutes fatter; so, all in all, it might be termed a blessing that they called it a day the year after the release.

Don't let that fool you too much though, because Come the Mountain (cometh the man) has plenty of similarities to even the most recent of Witch Mountain's recordings. Doom is still the bedrock of the sound, moderated by hard, bluesy singing from founding guitarist Rob Wrong that doesn't quite sit comfortably on the loping grooves. He sounds somewhat similar to Kirk Windstein of Crowbar and (regrettably) John Brennan of Revelation on the condition that they were being taunted by monkeys, because Wrong deals in an odd mix of yowling and crooning that becomes a hardcore shout during 'Victim of Chord Changes'. That song title earns an extra point for the release, by the way.

Musically, Witch Mountain provide peeks at a slew of influences in the American doom scene, though most of it can be summed up by saying that a lot of the riffing sounds like mid-period Cathedral and the songs are structured like those of early Argus, Dave Hoopaugh's bass grunting through the dirty low-end like a hippo in mud. Along with Nathan Carson on drums, Hoopaugh manages to keep this group of slow songs interesting for the most part, playing around with fills and rhythmic tricks while the broadness of the guitars just ploughs straight through the middle of the recording. The fiddly introduction to 'Rocaine' is a fine example, plus some introspective tension during the "suite" 'The Scientist's: a) Confession b) Execution c) Last Thoughts', which is nearly as cool as it sounds. Calling a 63 minute doom album overlong wouldn't be very sporting, though the only factor preventing me from doing so is the solidity of the rhythm section, without whom the second part would definitely become boring.

Longer songs begin when 'Iron Lung' crops up for the first of three parts, taking its combined length above 20 minutes. The first section commando crawls a little too obviously through Black Sabbath territory to be worth more than a few tokes or a sleepy headbang, especially as the aimless lead noise is extended beyond sensible lengths to double the duration of the song. Some more creative riffing emerges at times when Wrong and Johnny Beluzzi use the twin guitar format to separate duties, but it falls to the (comparatively) hurtling opening riff of 'Iron Lung part 3' to form something truly memorable. These longer songs have the bulk of the creative content, seeing as the shorter numbers are more formulaic, so the album actually improves as it accommodates more jamming (and fewer vocals), making the closing section of 'Iron Lung' among the most positive experiences.

It's tough to recommend Witch Mountain's forgotten debut to fans of the latter incarnation of the band, mostly because of the stark difference between vocalists, though also due to some unrepressed stoner tendencies that were mostly cut away following the reformation. Come the Mountain isn't the most interesting or inspired of doom metal releases, but it certainly isn't the worst either.