UTA PLOTKIN is climbing down from Witch Mountain.
The news of the group's frontwoman stepping away from the doom-metal band is certainly big for those who've come aboard during Witch Mountain's five-year renaissance, which began with Plotkin's live debut in July 2009. But as they approach their 17th year, Witch Mountain has proven to be one of the most resilient bands in metal memory.
Drummer Nathan Carson—who founded the band with guitarist Rob Wrong in 1997—speaks of the band in almost legacy terms. "It's not a death blow," he says. "Judas Priest and Iron Maiden weathered it."
Witch Mountain's ascent to an internationally successful and consistent doom metal unit has been a gradual one—bolstered, of course, by the addition of Plotkin, who appeared on two mammoth slabs of doom, 2011's comeback South of Salem, and Cauldron of the Wild the following year. Carson says that philosophy will carry over into their search for a new vocalist. "We don't want to appear three months later with a new singer pasted in," he says. "We want it to be organic. We're very zen about it."
The four-piece doom machine (which also includes bassist Charles Dingus) is currently bulldozing across the US and Canada on the strength of their new record, Mobile of Angels. It's their best to date, with its back half almost abandoning their blues-doom leanings for angular post-rock guitar noise and the hazy, dream-influenced title track. Plotkin's vocals are again mighty and otherworldly, but she also reels them in at the right moments.
Witch Mountain will play their final show with the singer, appropriately, in their home base of Portland. As the shows and days wind down in tandem, the members are keeping a relatively positive attitude. (On top of it all, Carson says they've personally dealt with some "heavy shit" over the past two months.)
"It's exciting, relieving, it's sad," Carson says of the final shows. "But we're playing well, getting along, and the record has been well-received. We've earned a break."
Carson and Wrong will do just that, as well as work on other projects. Plotkin plans to hunker down for a spell before moving on to the next chapter. But Witch Mountain isn't going away. And if Mobile of Angels is any indication, they still have a lot of living to do. "The past five years have been the best era for the band," Carson says. "But we keep getting better."