Witch Mountain Credit: Whitey Mcconaughy

The recently released self-titled album from Portland’s trippy doom quartet Witch Mountain was one of my most-anticipated albums this year. It’s their fifth album overall, and it’s their first with new singer Kayla Dixon and new bassist Justin Brown (his playing doesn’t change the band’s sound as dramatically). Former front woman Uta Plotkin helped to lift Witch Mountain far above the average heavy schist with her soaring and roaring vocals; when she amicably left the group in 2014, her place by the mic wasn’t going to be easy to fill. Dixon—just 19 when she joined the band—answered any lingering questions about the newly revamped lineup with her rousing performance on the band’s 2016 single, “Burn You Down.” Witch Mountain is short considering the four-year wait since the group’s previous album, 2014’s Mobile of Angels (Profound Lore), but there’s not a moment wasted. Witch Mountain have always brought a grounded, bluesy quality to even their wildest jams, and the tremendous ululations of guitarist Rob Wrong (also a member of Chicago doom veterans Trouble) paired with Dixon’s versatile voice carries the varying moods of the music. The lovely, largely acoustic “Hellfire” tenderizes the brain so that the nearly 15-minute-long “Nighthawk” can melt it down into ecstatic lava.   v