Cataclysmic doom duo Bell Witch manage to make a slow racket as immense as the artwork draped over their records, their set-up of drums and bass guitar somehow sounding off louder than most bands of their ilk. Mirror Reaper is an unwavering behemoth, spanning eighty-three minutes over one single song. RIP to the excellent Adrian Guerra who used to drum for the band.
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A rhythm section fit for a throne, Bell Witch’s doom metal has somehow outsized and overwhelmed everything else in its genre, a behemoth of drums and bass that somehow sounds maximalist in economy. With their fantastical album art and their grand sonic ambitions (‘Mirror Reaper’ is eighty-three minutes packed into a one song procession), the duo offer their most epic and dreadfully spacious album to date, inviting the listener to get lost in a canvas of slow noise.
Having essentially run a victory lap around traditional funeral doom with ‘Four Phantoms’, the band’s follow-up tries for an expansion pack of their sound, adding some cosmic medieval via organs and inviting guest vocalist Erik Moogridge (Aerial Ruin) into proceedings. The result is a record that feels like a kind of extreme ritual, the riffs circulating with a doubled down minimalism as the record delves into droning valleys, contemplative clean sections and ghostly vocals not dissimilar from Ulver’s meditative folk records. It sounds like Bell Witch stretched into a panorama, making music as reflective as it is earth-shattering -- like the epic poem Inter Arma made with ‘The Cavern’, this is much more than a mere metal album.
It’s still heavy as hell, though: these passages of disquiet only serve to exaggerate the death growls that rise up like earth tremors, the eighty plus minutes amounting to a detailed, terrained soundscape that always self-sabotages the way this band know best. It’s a record that heavily tributes the cataclysmic drumming of old band member Adrian Guerra, who died tragically in 2016. That they’re still making music that feels wholly in keeping with the momentous Bell Witch vision is a wonderful tribute in itself.
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