Live: Witch Mountain Bring A Little Too Much Polish To Saint Vitus

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Witch Mountain w/Lord Dying, Pilgrim, Bezoar
Saint Vitus
Friday, June 8

Better than: Kittie? Maybe?

In theory, Witch Mountain—whose heavy, bluesy fuzz is fronted by the expressive, theatrical Uta Plotkin—should work. But on Friday night at Saint Vitus, Plotkin and her band could only convey a lack of depth, giving the impression that over the past 15 years Witch Mountain still hasn't gelled into something stronger than an act whose novelty is based on the gender of its lead singer.

The highest notes sung by Plotkin, who joined the Portland outfit when it regrouped after a seven-year hiatus in 2009, soar far above the band's uninteresting, plodding riffs. She is supremely talented, but there's a lack of grit that makes her seem almost too perfect to be convincing as siren of darkness; her angst-ridden lyrics become even less believable when delivered between smiles. Worse, she could barely be heard on all but her topmost notes, as the band played so loudly that they overpowered their star performer.

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Live: Pilgrim Plant The Doom Metal Flag At Public Assembly

Public Assembly
Thursday, March 1

Better than: Seeing what new lows The Office has sunk to.

A few things you should know about Pilgrim before we even get started. The band members are named The Wizard, Count Elric the Soothsayer and, perhaps most awesomely, Krolg Splinterfist, Slayer of Man. Their debut album Misery Wizard—two words so pleasing to both the tongue and the ear they're essentially the heavy metal "cellar door"—clocks in at 55 minutes, despite the fact that it contains only six songs. And, above all else, Pilgrim play doom metal, a style that's been around since the 1970s but, with the increased profile of bands like Pallbearer, Mournful Congregation and Loss, it wouldn't be too surprising if, in 2012, doom supplants black metal in the hipster ipsum. In a way, it would be a kind of perfect symmetry—to the wrong audience, both genres can be off-putting in exactly opposite ways. Black metal is blitzkrieg rhythms and pit-of-hell vocals; doom is detuned and zombie slow and topped with long, anguished, almost defiantly melodic vocals. Or, to put it another way: black metal is a searing hot poker slashed across an exposed cornea. Doom is a long, slow skinny dip in a vat of bubbling tar.

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