Bell Witch – Longing

Recreating the feelings of the forlorn through sound is no easy task. Metal enthusiasts know that Doom, in particular, accesses our internal sources of despondency with ease. As with all things, our overexposure to these specific tropes of heavy music can inadvertently dilute our experience of them. What can practitioners of Doom Metal do, then, to ensure we listeners reach catharsis? Innovate however possible. Construct, or deconstruct. In Bell Witch’s case, innovation derives from the subtraction of Doom tenets of which we are most familiar – most notably, down-tuned guitar, or additional atmospherics of any kind (an understated use of cello on title track ‘Longing (the river of ash)’ notwithstanding). The duo of Dylan Desmond and Adrian Guerra rely upon vocals, bass guitar and drums alone, but unlike the Sleep remnants in Om, you won’t begrudge Bell Witch’s lack of six-string accompaniment (or have to worry about a lack of heaviness). The performance of Bell Witch’s three instruments – especially the intricate, powerful lines constructed by the distorted bass – are presented with such sullen skill and power you won’t feel anything is missing. The band’s drone-esque arrangements, perpetuated by the low and slow four-stringer, are rounded out with considered melody-crafting on the higher notes of the instrument, keeping song structure – however crawling and drawn out – intact. Both members handle the mic, with styles varying between DM throat roars with a satisfying, raging Mummy aesthetic, quietly sung/whispered moments, layered chanting-monk passages, and Black Metal shrieks sure to please anyone looking for some treble amongst the towering low-register notes. The single-track clean singing sounds strained in places, distracting at times, but as the earnestness in delivery ratchets up, so too does their effectiveness and quality.

I’ve been spinning Doom Metal more often than normally lately, and as I am typically more of a black/death/grind guy, my ability to empathize with the Doom artist’s true intention – what for me is the recreation of forlorn feeling – had been diminished somewhat. Longing has righted the ship.

I am distraught.

I am pleased. -Jim

Profound Lore Records

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~ by cliftonium on November 21, 2012.

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