Mobile of Angels
02 October 2014
by Pete Long
Witch Mountain’s new album will be released at exactly the right time of year to appreciate it. Shortening nights, greying skies – autumn is a time for doom metal. Fans’ appreciation of Mobile of Angels will be tempered, however, by the news that this will be vocalist Uta Plotkin’s last album with the band. It’s enough to move you to sadness before even listening to it.
Founder and drummer Nate Carson sounds fairly philosophic in interviews about replacing her but it is clearly one almighty task. Not only is her ability to cover a huge range of emotion and notes integral to Witch Mountain’s soulful sound, it’s also staggeringly beautiful. They will still have guitarist Rob Wrong though – the other half of the band’s melodic structure – whose riff opens the album with the slow groove of ‘Psycho Animundi’. It’s heavy vitriol gives way intermittently to Plotkin’s lament and quieter moments, but it’s a big wake up call. ‘Can’t Settle’ shows the bluesier side before turning to the pain of parting in the outro as Plotkin sings, “it’s time to go”.
‘Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)’ is the highlight of the album, and possibly the year. Its take on heartbreak is by turns bitter then plaintive, understanding then brooding, and near flawless. Plotkin’s guilty of stretching her melodies to fit the words too much at times, but this is like fixating on a fly landing on the Mona Lisa. Her voice carries the song until Wrong’s best solo of the album. The title track acts as a palate cleanser after that, its otherworldly tones easing us back. Witch Mountain have structured this album intelligently (as they build their songs) on the backs of the under-appreciated Carson and bassist Charles Thomas. ‘The Shape Truth Takes’ exhibits this skill best, growing from frail beginnings to become progressively stronger and sadder. The European bonus track, a cover of Mountain’s ‘Don’t Look Around’, is misplaced after this, breaking the reverie. It’s a fine performance but Mobile of Angels is stronger without it.
It is bittersweet to think that Witch Mountain have hit this peak only to be forced to evolve again. But Uta Plotkin will surely share her talents elsewhere, while the rest of the band remain talented musicians with a superior understanding of doom metal. If there is any justice, both will thrive after this. In the meantime, we have this masterpiece to listen to.
Sounds Like: A wistful and spirited farewell
Standout Tracks: Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn), The Shape Truth Takes, Can’t Settle