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.)


LOSS ‘Horizonless’ Review; Select Track Stream

LOSS
Horizonless – CD//2xLP//Digital
Profound Lore – May 19, 2017
Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker

We are now just a day away from what is expected to be one of the most crushingly depressive releases of the year being set loose upon all. That’s right, the long awaited and oft-doubted return of the Nashville, Tennessee-based Loss is finally at hand. The unholy event would provide ample cause for celebration were it not for the sullen, bleakly depressive hopelessness the unit is so well known for providing. The lividly aural obtuseness that is brought to life, then near death, in the music of Loss is of the utmost cause for alarm. Not is it merely a semi-hellish soundtrack of bereaved emanations but it may very well be the actual house music within a damnable Hades itself.

Six years since the debut ‘Despond‘ was unleashed upon the denizens of the Earth, Loss return with the Billy Anderson-produced Horizonless via Profound Lore on May 19th. All of the prerequisite attachments are still here, ones ranging from atmospheric to funeral doom and more. But there is also a palpable, overwhelming sense of despondency reverberating through every note, Drawn out, sustained death marches into the deepest chasms of soulless emptiness, where each forcible step is one nearer to the point of no return.

Haunting, harrowing and truly horizonless for there is no light at the end of this tunnel’s descent, no momentary glimpse of anything to inspire hope. Much like a Death Row inmate’s last moments, you feel surreally out of body as your physical husk moves slowly toward its inevitable end. And this is the music most ideally meant to accompany you on that journey, on both planes as your last steps on Earth become your first taken into Eternity. The title track’s last few spoken moments perhaps put it best, put it all into perspective: “Something Is Lost..Nothing Is Gained“.

– Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker



 

 


MERCHANT ‘Beneath’ EP Review & Stream

MERCHANT
Beneath – CD//DD
Black Bow Records – Released May 12, 2017
Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker

Black Bow Records is the label started by Conan’s Jon Paul Davis and it just released the 2-song ‘Beneath‘ from Australia’s Merchant last Friday, May 12th. It was just little over a year ago that Merchant came crashing on to the heavy music scene with their four-song debut, Suzerain. Now, vocalist Mirgy, guitarist Ben, bassist/vox Wilson and drummer Nick are back with another brutish boulder of harrowing heaviness.

The slowly unfolding first moments of ‘Guile As A Vice‘ are somewhat sedate as a fuzzy riff reverberates and plodding drums render periodic, perfectly timed strikes. Soon a pattern begins to form and from that pattern, a rhythmic roadmap comes into sight..and sound. Equally melodic and epic, things build and circulate, almost reaching a drone like point before gravelly vocals finely enter the mix. Harshly acidic, they herald a tale told from what sounds like pure vocal chord shredding severity amid semi-psyche infused atmospherics of utter dread. At over fourteen and a half minutes running time, there is a lot of transcendental sludge to be explored here for sure.

Second cut ‘Succumbing‘ is instantly more uptempo yet no less savagely brutal and battering. Taking a cue from peers like Neurosis and Yob, the track’s flurry of circulatory rhythmic pulses pull you under. The vocals undergo a turn toward a much more sinister state than the previous track while the hellish audio bog beats you into submission. Another long-player, the song maintains a constant, fevered inferno of activity on varied levels and refuses to let up for the most part. A bit of haziness seeps forth at one point as things begin to pull back in intensity, gradually getting a bit more and more minimalist. That throttling down continues and soon gives way to a cacophony of feedback and dissonance before relinquishing its hold upon your throat.

What strides Merchant has made since their critically acclaimed release last year are more than evident on the new EP, ‘Beneath‘. The sludgier vibes are prevalent and punishing of course with one of the most noticeable differences here is the change in the vocals. I am sure this newly released beatdown of blackened bereavement shall leave no listener unscathed. You can now stream it for yourself via the Soundcloud embed below if you dare.

– Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker