Bell Witch
Mirror Reaper

First, hats off to Mariusz Lewandowski, who created the cover art for Bell Witch‘s third album, for it was this striking artwork that got me to check out this otherwise new to me band.

Second, holy. fuck.

I have not been utterly moved by a Funeral Doom album for a few years, probably since Funeral’s From These Wounds or Mournful Congregation‘s last effort. But this Portland duo has me utterly mesmerized and fully enthralled in the crushing waves of despondency that mixes the aforementioned Aussies mournful dirges, Pantheist’s austere church-like atmospherics and the emotional  and vocal and melancholic lead work of Pallbearer.

I should let you know, this monster of a record is a 1 song, 83 minute affair. So buckle up and prepare your heart to be crushed, wrung out and slowly stepped on multiple times as the album dips and peaks with crushing, completely knee wilting doom and atmospheric and  sonorous moments of elegant, artful catharsis.

Breaking down a track this ambitious and perfectly rendered is a tall order. But imagine if you will an 83 minute rendition of the band’s best and most powerful moments from prior releases ( I have since goen back and check out the band’s back catalog to prepare for this review) such as “Bails of Flesh” (from debut Longing)  or “Suffocation, a Burial: I – Awoken (Breathing Teeth)” ) (From Four Phantoms). Sure, the duo seems to be comfortable with pretty specific chord progressions, and some of it sounds familiar to prior moments from those albums, but it’s such a perfect, rending and moving set of notes, you will be too busy opening up your wrists to notice.

The piece starts with a few minutes of slow acoustic build up before the church organ and Ahab like crumble explodes with  monolithic, plodding efficacy and cavernous distant growls that ebbs with a slow, droning, but emotional purpose. 17 or so minutes in you get another depressive peak with solitude inducing acoustic dejection with another monstrous crescendo about 10 minutes later. It’s all so utterly and crushingly  perfect, that it’s that rare musical moment that hits you right in your heart, and will make you bow your head and just let it wash over you. I do not recommend for the frail of heart or emotionally susceptible.

The latter third of the movement sees some clean croons that have appeared on prior releases, bringing some tranquil gravitas to the affair (1:02:00 ish being particularity effective), and when mixed with patiently rendered acoustics, the church organs and choirs about an hour and 12 minutes in, it’s truly evocative, wilting stuff. The track fades out, much as it came in with delicate and poignant closure.

Despite it’s challenging run time, Mirror Reaper is a funeral doom tour de force that deserve to be in the pantheons of the genre. And while fellow Portlandians  like Usnea and Graves at Sea have recently released fine sludge/doom albums, Bell Witch are free from any blackened or sludge filler and focus sole on the doom part and have done it perfectly.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
October 16th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    how the hell does this come packaged? I thought CDs only ran 79 minutes…


  2. Commented by: Dave

    I really want to like this band, but their albums seem really bloated and all I want to do is go to sleep.


  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    My copy of this arrived a couple days ago. it’s as long as a short feature film, and just utterly, cripplingly fucked up and sad. Instant best-of-list fodder.


  4. Commented by: Jay

    I never got around to checking this band out yet with so much going on. This review hits all of the right notes in describing it man. Very damn good stuff. Reminds me of Morgion and Evoken in some weird way too but with all of the other influences that you mentioned. I’m way into the guitar action happening in that track above.


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