In 2008 the Germans Rene Roggmann and Rene Sitte started the instrumental band Mountain Witch, not to be confused with Witch Mountain from Portland. In 2009 they recorded their debut Scythe & Dead Horse. The album, a mixture of stoner jams and heavy psych rock, sold out in no time. Eventually they decided to hire a bass player to give more shape to their 70s sound and musical direction. With Tobert Knopp on bass they delivered their first album as a trio, Cold River, released by This Charming Man records. From then the music can be described as 70’s retro rock. Inspired by the riffs of Black Sabbath, the blues of Blue Cheer and the confidence of Deep Purple. After releasing their second album, Burning Village, the comparison with Kadavar and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats was quickly made. I have listened to their previous two albums a lot, so my expectation of Extinct Cults was high. Also, because the press release states that both Rene’s will enjoy a pause when it’s released. For how long is not sure.
The record starts with Capping Day and immediately it feels familiar. A quiet opener with a riff that is clearly inspired by Black Sabbath’s earlier work. Rene Roggmann’s drums are nice to the ears. Great song, but something gnaws while listening. I just can’t put my finger on it, yet. Except that Rene Roggmann’s vocals seems a bit uninspired. The second track Back from the Grave has all the ingredients for a good stoner song. But also this song doesn’t seem to get off the ground. It all sounds a bit tame and I have the feeling that both Rene’s are missing motivation. Like they don’t enjoy it themselves. Shortly before the end of this track everything suddenly changes with a tempo change and guitar solo: that’s how I recognize Mountain Witch! Worship You gets its title from the riff, because it simply can’t get more Black Sabbathian. Fortunately, this song takes the record to the next level. This also applies to the title track Extinct Cults. The seven-minute song only starts with vocals, accompanied by some guitar strumming until a compelling riff is started. For the first time I have the feeling that the energy and motivation is back where the previous records ended. There is more interaction. The song is more intense and gets on well. Especially because of the fierce pounding on the drums. In Man is Wolf to Man the tempo goes up a lot. This results in a pleasant rock song with a catchy chorus genuine seventies style. The last song The Devil, Probably once again sounds like a homage to Black Sabbath. Luckely with their own interpretation. Too bad though.
I have the same feeling here again as I had at the beginning: it sounds uninspired and frayed. As if they hastily recorded another record to enjoy their pause as soon as possible. And that is a pity. The songs are well written and well composed. Mountain Witch could do a lot better, I am 100% sure.