Bell Witch “Mirror Reaper” Album Review + Stream…

Bell Witch

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.

Band Pic

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.)


Our Ceasing Voice “Free Like Tonight” Album Review + Stream + Music Video…

Our Ceasing Voice

Free Like Tonight – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD

Self Released: August 25, 2017

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

Austrian Ambient / Alt. Rockers Our Ceasing Voice have been at it awhile, though this is my first encounter with them.  Folks are always surprised when I haven’t heard of this band or that band, especially if it’s something that is well within the realm of what I usually find myself listening to.  The fact of the matter is just that there’s a whole slew of music out there, and there’s simply no way for me to keep up with it all.  Nearly everyone these days is in a band, or two, or three, or five.  With that kind of saturation, it’s easy for even really good bands to slip through the cracks.  That’s the case with Our Ceasing Voice, and I’m honestly surprised that these cats don’t have a bit more exposure.  Their sound is both unique and accessible, though perhaps the vocals are a bit of an acquired taste.  Also, Free Like Tonight was only released about a month ago, so this album hasn’t really had enough time to get out there and reach a wider audience. In truth, I’m not sure how their back catalog compares to their latest, so this album is my only point of reference.

When talking about this album, I think that it’s important to write about the vocals first and foremost, as they’re the center point; they’re what stands out and drives the music.  It’s the kind of style that’s going to be polarizing: a deep and tortured baritone, goth-inspired and pain-strickenly emotional.  For me personally, they work and totally make the album, and I can see how others may be turned off by them, especially as they veer towards the melodramatic more often than not.  Still, vocalist Dominik Dorfler delivers his poetic lyrics with both poise and power.

The songs themselves are fairly simple in structure and instrumentation.  They’re focused on texture and atmosphere rather than any form of musical pyrotechnics – layers of reverberated piano, subtle guitar parts echoed for emphasis, and airy washes of synthesizers float in and out of the mix, laying a backdrop for the vocals, and minimalist drums form the bedrock and foundation underneath.  It’s tough for me to tell if there’s an actual bass guitar playing, or if the low end is simply carried by the guitars and synths; if there is bass, once again, it’s subtle.  There’s no bassist credited on the album, so there very well may not be one.

Now, as much as I like this album, it’s not without faults, like most albums.  While I can appreciate the shifts in dynamics that break up monotony within the songs themselves, on a whole, there’s not a lot of diversity within the album.  Every song is extremely similar, and the tempos are all in the same ballpark.  There’s not a whole lot to differentiate them, and perhaps that’s why these guys have kept a relatively low profile.  This isn’t a deal breaker for me, and it shows a clear area for growth.  Moving forward, if they incorporated something different every third song or so, or even used some interludes to break things up a bit, I think that they could have a lot of success with future albums.  Their basic formula is solid – they just need a little bit of tweaking so that their albums really stand out and don’t start to feel tedious or repetitious halfway through.

Band Pic

I can see fans of ambient music, post-rock and goth rock getting into Our Ceasing Voice.  The vocals make their music fairly unique without being wildly experimental, and what they do, they do extremely well.  As I’ve noted above, I’m more concerned with what they don’t do.  Namely, they do need to fix things up a bit.  It’s tough for me to even identify a standout track because….well, they’re all pretty good, and they’re all pretty similar.

A band like this has all kinds of options – add some more experimental elements  and really abstract sounds, rev up the tempos for a tune or two, add some vocal harmonies, get some guest musicians.  Hell, even add some more traditional rock elements like a fitting guitar solo, adding more hooks in the vocals and instrumentation, or just some bridges.  Getting a bassist may help with this by beefing up the rhythms and offering opportunities for interplay between the bass and drums.  Like I’ve stated over and over – Our Ceasing Voice have developed a unique sound, and they’ve got a ton of potential.  If they can carry that approach over to the treatment of individual songs, so that each song on an album stands as its own individual statement, then I think they’ll really start to go places.

Our Ceasing Voice at The Great Wall of China during their last Tour!Our Ceasing Voice at The Great Wall in China!!


Boris “Dear” Album Review + Video + Stream…

Boris

Dear – Vinyl // CD // DD

Sargent House Records – released July 14, 2017

Reviewed by Santiago “Chags” Gutierrez 

 

It’s been twenty-five years since Boris was formed, taking their name from a Melvins song, they have since released a multifarious catalog of music. From the onset, they have run the gamut of ambient, drone, doom, noise, psych, punk, sludge, and shoegaze along with everything else in between, and no one has been able to pull that off as effortlessly as Boris has. They weave their multi-genre magic seamlessly and to great effect on every release. Takeshi Ohtani, Wata, and Atsuo Mizuno have been together since the formation of the band and the chemistry they have still bonds well to this day.

Opener ‘D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise’ sets the pace with a powerful and impactful intro of controlled noise with enchanting vocals. ‘Deadsong’ continues along the same path with an electronic drone number that showcases whispered vocals among haunting screams and howls. ‘Absolutego’ may be considered the most accessible song on the record, as it follows a more traditional song structure. You can find the official video for ‘Absolutego’ on YouTube as well.

‘Beyond’ is a highlight of the record as it takes the listener on a roller-coaster tempo ride while vocally, they hit every mark perfectly. ‘Beyond’ segues into ‘Kagero’ where Boris showcases their noise/experimental/dreampop skills with efficacy. Shoegaze-like vocals are featured on ‘Biotope’ with dreamwave and noise components.

Boris brings the doom with ‘The Power’ and ‘Memento Mori.’ Both tracks would irrefutably fit perfectly on any respectable doom record. ‘The Power’ is an instrumental piece that recalls elements of Electric Wizard and Trouble. The vocal tone on ‘Memento Mori’ is damn near perfect to go along with the funeral doom musical melee going on behind it. Certain elements of the song reminiscent of the gloriously classic Italian doom era.

Pro Band Pic

This brings us to ‘Dystopia Vanishing Point.’ To say this has song of the year potential is an understatement. Clocking in at almost twelve minutes, this one will be hard to beat. The song intro is reminiscent of a great soundtrack record. Chino Moreno-like vocals kick in to go along with the slowed down shoegaze vibe followed by an amazing guitar solo that runs the final five-minute leg of the song. The album bookends nicely with “Dear” which hearkens back to the slowed down drone feedback style we heard on ‘D.O.W.N. Domination of Waiting Noise.’

Boris are still going strong after all these years, continually looking for ways to challenge themselves with experimentation. Dear, like most of their albums, is about motion and magnitude. It is without a doubt a spiritual journey and despite the variety of genres explored, it’s still dexterous in its delivery. Thankfully Boris never seems comfortable staying fixated on one single style or genre. They continue to change and explore the dimensions of sound. I think by now it goes without saying that this will undoubtedly make my end of the year top ten list.


DRUG HONKEY Debut ‘Sickening Wastoid’ Official Video

Narcotic-like noise mongers Drug Honkey are preparing to unleash their new offering, ‘Cloak Of Skies‘, via Transcending Obscurity on May 5th. The pre-release hype for the punishing delivery of sonic abuse is reaching a fevered pitch of late. The album, which features guest appearances by the godfather of bleakness, Justin Broadrick and saxophonist most sinister, Bruce Lamont, is the baddest of trips seemingly. With crushing despair and abundant psychedelic savagery , Drug Honkey are poised to scar lives forever.

Today, Drug Honkey are serving up their video for the song ‘Sickening Wastoid‘, which is its very own frightening hallucination thanks to the twisted mind of Paolo Girardi. The morphing, animated album art from ‘Cloak Of Skies‘ appears alive and threateningly menacingly in the clip. Prepare to experience something you cannot un-see once you have your third eye opened to this vile visualizer.

For my own take on Drug Honkey‘s ‘Cloak Of Skies‘, check out my review of it over at Riff Relevant.

– Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker

Drug-Honkey-LP

New Album Review – Ebisu “Lure”

EBISU-  Lure

Release date: February 07th, 2017

Label – Self Released. Format: DD

New York is the home for this band that Ken Ghani (vox/guitars), Nikhil Kamineni (guitars/bass/synths/noise) and Tama Vadja (drums) have procured to give this epic 3-track EP to us and this is indeed something special.

A not so subtle mix of elements of post-apocalyptica/ambient/doom/industrial with a splash of stoner thrown in for good measure, Ghani / Kamineni have created a soundscape of shadows and whispers and foreboding that as ‘Sycamore’, the opener, fades in, you can feel the fog swirling as you advance with caution into the quagmire of what awaits next. Full-instrumental here that sets the tone for the remaining two tracks as the sounds that surround you seem to wrap tighter and tighter as you approach ‘The Merchant’ that is waiting in front of you and greets you with an almost tantric sounding drone-chant. Once the first hit of the snare rings out, the whisper-screams float by your ear and the droning repeats and repeats lending to the feeling of mystic capture that permeates and then seems to dissipate for the fade out of the song. ‘Good At Craft’ comes in with a lone guitar progression followed by more ambient noises closing in again from all sides, slowly closing in. The same whisper-vocal weaves around like so many snakes, the power chords giving them body to strike as you abandon to the enveloping you feel closing around like a black velvet glove that is getting firmer in its grasp of plush control, accentuated by the increased intricacy of the music that rings of almost divine splendor in that same plushness as EBISU drive you from where you stand to the multi-dimensional planes from which they have brought forth this musical mastery.

 

Band Shot

 

Amazing mix with solid production values give this release the power to crush and if this is the future of ambient-sludge -goth-doom hybrids, I say BRING ME MORE because three tracks just isn’t enough…

Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr