Mirror Reaper – Double CD // DD
Profound Lore Records – released October 20, 2017
Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler
Hello everyone this is The Ancient One and I want to tell you about a new album I came across just recently called Mirror Reaper by the Seattle based duo BELL WITCH. Founded in 2010 by Drummer/Vocalist Adrian Guerra and Bassist/Vocalist Dylan Desmond, BELL WITCH nearly came to an end. Unable to continue due to his struggle with alcohol and meet contractual obligations, Dylan Desmond had to make the heartbreaking decision to release founding member Adrian Guerra and replace him with Jesse Shreibman, of the grind-core band Transient. The two of them had been trying to keep the duo together in its original incarnation but were unable to do so because of Guerra‘s increasing addiction. Alcoholism is motherfucker of a disease, with a mind of its own. On May 17, 2016, Adrian Guerra passed away in his sleep from heart failure while Mirror Reaper was being recorded.
For those unfamiliar with Bell Witch, the Duo occupies a special place in the metal scene as they rely on nothing more than bass, drums, and vocals to create their haunting funeral doom sound. The best way I am able to describe what they do is to imagine having nothing but black paint and a goal of painting a picture leaving no part of the canvas untouched by the paint forcing the artist to rely on texture to create the negative and positive spaces that make up an image. While many musicians can do this with sound to a point, BELL WITCH’s Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman have taken it to the next level on there 83 minute single track album Mirror Reaper.
As with past albums BELL WITCH’s Mirror Reaper is a continuation of that which is ghostly. After reading an article about the new Bell Witch album in which Dylan Desmond explained that the track’s theme is about mortality and the experience of dying. Some may want to call this ambient and I suppose you could if you sat down reading a book and used it for background noise. But if you actively listen you will find it easy to picture in your head what is going on for the person on their deathbed.
With a steady mournful riff by Dylan Desmond and slow purposeful beats by Jesse Shreibman, they sound like a mourner crying and the dying person’s fading heartbeat. When I got to the part were of the song in which Jesse Shreibman stops drumming I found it easy to envision those last moments after the heart stops as I listened to the soft crooning and the soft ghostly bass. Listening to this sort of messed me up as it reminded me of being in the room as my own father died. While I am certain this album started out being an exercise in thought, I believe Adrian Guerra’s death made the album a reality for Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman that affected the end result leaving BELL WITCH fans with a monolithic masterpiece!
From BELL Witch’s Bandcamp page
“During the writing process we were devastated by the loss of our dear friend and former drummer, Adrian Guerra. In love and respect to his memory, we reserved an important yet brief section in the song for him that features unused vocal tracks from our last album. This specific movement serves as a conceptual turn in the piece, or point of reflection. We believe he would be proud of it as well.” Adrian Guerra (R.I.P.)