Witch Mountain

Classic doom mongers Witch Mountain walk in the hallowed halls of Lord Iommi

Doom metal was a total accident, an accident involving blood and steel and grey northern skies, but still the result of one guy fucking up. Anthony ‘Tony’ Iommi, working at a sheet metal factory in Birmingham, England, cut the tips off his ring and middle finger on his right hand. His guitar playing days were over. He wasn’t willing to start over with his left hand. However, he learned that Django Reinhardt, jazz legend, had suffered a similar injury and developed a way of playing with only two fingers. Still, playing hurt. Thin-gauge strings were still a ways off. He tried banjo strings and crude homemade thimbles, but the real difference came when he down tuned three semitones below standard guitar tuning. Iommi’s band, Black Sabbath, subsequently became the thickest and heaviest band around, spawning the metal genre we hold dear.

More than 40 years later, metal has differentiated into unthinkably divergent realms. However, that guitar sound – along with a few other Sabbathian standards – define doom metal. The lyrical themes of despair, dejection and the occult continue to this day.

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Stoner metal denizens Red Fang drink beer, rock hard, enjoy life hardest

Take a 13-hour drive southeast to Portland and there are rivers of Kombucha, an actual functioning public transportation system, weather marginally less hostile to human life, excellent craft beers and stoner metal quartet Red Fang.

The four-piece band formed in the city in 2005 and return there when their busy touring schedule permits. Combining the better parts of mid-career Mastodon at the cusp of their turn to prog, the heavier and faster parts of Queens of the Stone Age, and High On Fire with the fat trimmed, their songs max out at five minutes. In the nine years since their inception, they’ve played dream-come-true gigs with their spiritual forefathers in Orange Goblin and Kyuss Lives!, and after they touch down in Calgary for a two nights of sold out gigs at the Palomino, they start a tour with Swedish death-metal institutions In Flames and Opeth. Times are undeniably good.

 

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