Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
Bell Witch is an American doom metal band from Seattle, Washington, United States, formed in 2010. Notably, the group has no guitarist. Seattle based duo Bell Witch have, since their inception in 2010, carved a unique niche in the metal scene. Utilizing only bass, drums and vocals to create a mournful, melodic take on minimalism and an ethereal but crushing approach to magnitude. Their most recent LP, Mirror Reaper was recorded by Billy Anderson and is their most focused, structured and melancholy release to date.
With their third full-length album Mirror Reaper, Seattle doom metal duo Bell Witch has created their most enormous and all-encompassing work to date. The band takes their blueprint for the minimalistic, mournful, yet massive sound and expands it to a new level, doing the unthinkable in the genre: a continuous 83-minute piece unfolding as a single time-stretching track. Once again engineered and mixed by veteran producer Billy Anderson (who claims this as one of the milestones in his entire producing career) the duo of Dylan Desmond (bass, vocals) and Jesse Shreibman (drums, vocals, organ) push the sound even further beyond their landmark 2015 album, the genre-defining Four Phantoms. With organ adding a new layer, the album also sees honorary member and guest vocalist Erik Moogridge (Aerial Ruin) return once again offering an even more prominent presence with his vocals.
The overall mood on this album is that of grief and loss. Just as these feelings come in intense, painful waves, so too does Mirror Reaper barrage you with waves of abrasive, harsh riffs. Even when the album allows its listeners to regain their breath with a minimalist bass solo, there’s a sense of longing that never quite lets you go.
I could point out certain timestamps throughout the track but I’m not going to do that. We can, however, take a stroll through the one hour and twenty-three minutes that span this single track release. I will also note that there are moments of silence that extend for a few seconds which could have served as track markers, but for some reason, they decided not to do that, as it could have easily been broken up into three parts. But no, it’s just one big pile of music that you have to sort through on your own.
Since releasing their debut five years ago, the Seattle band has found a new niche in an old genre and imbued every note with a passion that’s rare in any school of music. Bell Witch was already one of the most promising doom bands in recent memory, but Mirror Reaper has elevated them to leaders in their class. Support comes from crushing French veterans Monarch and local sci-fi doom favorites Usnea. An extremely loud and incredibly slow show by all accounts.
In conjunction with the release of Mirror Reaper, Bell Witch created a feature-length music video. The film is a video collage comprised of dozens of archival films. Each of these clips is woven together with the album to build a patient, heavy, and haunting narrative. The film aims to hold the viewer in the state of a lucid dream, feeling trapped as a specter drifting through places of darkness. Mirror Reaper will be a projection for the band’s live performances, as well as a standalone cinematic experience.
On the history of Bell Witch, the band was formed in 2010 by Dylan Desmond and Adrian Guerra. In 2011, the group created a four-track demo that was released through a number of small record labels. With the success of that release, Bell Witch went on to create their first two studio albums, Longing (2012) and Four Phantoms (2015). In 2016, drummer and co-founding member Adrian Guerra died, shortly after being replaced by Jesse Shreibman on drums. Less than a year later, Bell Witch released their third album, Mirror Reaper (2017), to critical acclaim. The album features vocals from Guerra that had been leftover from the Four Phantoms sessions and acts as a tribute to him. Notably, Mirror Reaper comprises one 84-minute song of the same name. Mirror Reaper received significant national coverage, appearing on a number of year-end lists.
Artist: Bell Witch
Album: Mirror Reaper
Released: October 20, 2017
Label: Profound Lore Records
Producer: Billy Anderson
Genre: Doom Metal, Funeral Doom
Website: Official Website
Discs: 1 disc
Reviewed by: Mad Hatter
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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