Published Sep 23, 2014Recruiting Uta Plotkin, an intern at drummer Nathan Carson's Nanotear Booking Agency, turned out to be a major turning point for Portland metal troupe Witch Mountain. Plotkin has the powerful pipes of a soul chanteuse, and elevated the band's mournful, lengthy songs into gorgeous ballads of fiery black witchery.
On their forthcoming fourth full-length, Mobile of Angels, due September 30 through Profound Lore, the band have utilized those pipes to full effect, and the music has been similarly elevated, matching Plotkin's dynamic range with texture and contrast. Sadly, this is the last album for the current lineup: Plotkin will perform her final set with the band on Sunday (September 28).
"I wrote everything while I was in New Orleans for the winter," Plotkin tells Exclaim! "I was really just trying to get away, get some distance from everything. So I would have time to think, and really listen to what my art was saying. It was kind of dark, and the lyrics are reflective of that — of feeling lost, and like I needed to do something about it."
Her irritation is obvious, oozing all throughout the record and giving it a darker tone than the previous two she recorded with the band. In a segment of "Can't Settle," she croons "I'm getting the hell out of here…. Oh It's Time to Go." Later on, in "Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)" she sings, "I wish you all of the best as I walk away and relish the sweet release that I will feel when I finally put my heels down."
Despite these direct lyrics, there is no animosity between the members of Witch Mountain, and that frustration was harnessed for impressive results on Mobile of Angels. It's the overtly religious title that associates it with doom metal's penchant for Christian iconography, a noticeable trait when poring over records by Black Sabbath, Trouble and Candlemass.
"I think it definitely helps weld it to the tradition," says Carson, who formed the band in 1997 with guitarist Rob Wrong. "I was personally raised by pagan atheists on a goat farm, so it's not something that is so deep in my subconscious, but Rob had to go to a religious school when he was young, and Uta was definitely raised in a religious environment."
As for what the band plan on doing post-Plotkin, Carson is unperturbed.
"I am just too old to force anything at this point," he says. "I want to see what happens naturally. If the right person comes along, and we are feeling creative, we will run with it. But if it takes us two or three years to assemble something like we have now, so be it. I really don't want to cheat our fans by taking any steps backwards. Whatever time and effort it takes to be a great band, it's worth it."
Mobile of Angels is out on September 30, while Plotkin's final show is at Portland's Star Theater venue on Sunday. You can see all their remaining tour dates, several of which are in Canada, with Nik Turner's Hawkwind below.
09/23 Saskatoon, SK - Vangelis Tavern
09/24 Calgary, AB - Palomino
09/26 Vancouver, BC - Venue (early evening show)
09/27 Seattle, WA - Chop Suey
09/28 Portland, OR - Star Theater