Stygian Bough: Volume 1 by Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin

Doom metallers Bell Witch have already released three album on their own terms but here bring in the magnificently named Aerial Ruin  - a folk project of songwriter Erik Moggridge. Working together, the collaborators broaden their sound with Moggridge taken on lead vocals and contributing songwriting yet it keeps plenty of Bell Witch's sonic maelstrom. Produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn 0))), Wolves In The Throne Room etc). 

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Stygian Bough: Volume 1 by Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin
1 review. Write a review for us »
9/10 Daoud 08 July 2020

Friends, I have missed you. It’s been a calendar month since I’ve last had the time and the energy to write one of Norman Records’ patented “reviews" and boy is it nice to be back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to assist all you lovely customers by email but it doesn’t quite scratch the creativity itch does it?

Anyway, this isn't my personal web log. I'm here to talk about how much I love Bell Witch, the band. Since first hearing their 2017 masterpiece ‘Mirror Reaper’, they’ve become one of the few metal bands I properly get on with. It’s hard to pick out why Bell Witch stand above their peers, in terms of what they do it’s really not so different from the average doom metal band. I think it might be their almost minimalist approach to the genre. Doom metal risks becoming a paint-by-numbers dirge with the occasional loud bit. To my ears, Bell Witch manage to introduce a large dose of nuance.

That nuance is on show here on ‘Stygian Bough: Volume 1’, their album made in collaboration with Aerial Ruin. Jesse Shreibman’s drumming is particularly restrained, and mixed in a way that it all but disappears into Dylan Desmond’s wonderful gothic bass riffing - the one that runs through opener ‘The Bastard Wind’ is immense and uplifting and horrifying all at once. Though I suppose it’s fair to wonder how much of that nuance is by necessity, Bell Witch don’t even have a guitarist.

The two interlude tracks ‘Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)’ and ‘Prelude’ don’t even feature drums, just contemplative folk melodies to ready us for what follows. In each case it’s something louder, but still restrained. ‘Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)’ has the patience and the might of something Stephen O'Malley might be involved with.

The ‘Volume 1’ in the title implies the existence of at least a Volume 2. Maybe by then I’ll have learned what a ‘Stygian Bough’ is.



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