RIYL: Pallbearer, Rosetta, Wolves in the Throne Room
Seattle doom metal duo Bell Witch have created a monolith with their third full-length record Mirror Reaper. The album consists of a single work – one continuous 83-minute movement that unfolds, shifts, surprises at every twist and turn. Engineered and mixed by legendary producer Billy Anderson, the pair of Dylan Desmond (bass & vocals) and Jesse Shreibman (drums, vocals, and Hammond B3), have created what might call the answer to Sleep’s Dopesmoker in doom form.
While the doom duo hearken back to their previous releases, Mirror Reaper shows the band choosing to explore more sonic territory. There is a contemplativeness to the build, swirling in despair. Shreibman’s organ movements paired with piercing growl of Erik Moggridge of Aerial Ruin, provide for a feeling of dense emotion, as heard throughout the track. What is jaw-dropping about this record is that there is not a single lick from an electric lead guitar. Instead, we get a distorted bass sound from Desmond – a tone that Cliff Burton would likely spread a cheshire grin for.
According to the band’s Bandcamp page, there are themes that should be noted regarding the release as well:
“The title ‘Mirror Reaper’ is indicative of the Hermetic axiom ‘As Above, So Below,’ written with two sides to form one whole. The song is both its own and its reflection, as an opposite is whole only with its contrary. Our focus as a band has always been the perception of ghosts and the implied archetype of the dichotomy of life/death therein. ‘Mirror Reaper’ is a continuation of that concept.
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.
‘Mirror Reaper’ was the first collaborative writing project with the new line up, and Adrian’s death during it brought extra emotional weight. We sought to match the complexity and weight of these events within the composition of the piece.”
Ultimately, the record contains deep, haunting passages that convey an insurmountable melancholy. The Seattle duo have topped themselves once again. Fantastic.