You may remember that towards the end of 2011 CVLT Nation tasked me with making a top 6 demo releases of the year list. It was a struggle as a lot of incredible bands made their first forays into the world of music last year and thankfully all the bands on that list (which you can check out here) have either produced a phenomenal debut full length, or have continued to tour and fine tune their sound. None more so than Seattle duo Bell Witch, who are due to destroy with their Profound Lore debut, Longing.
Bell Witch are a surprising entry into the funeral doom realm – their sound is created by drums, bass and the deep, rich and often harshly beautiful tones of the two gents behind this project. Dylan Desmond (also of Lethe and Samothrace) lends his considerably heavy tones to proceedings whilst Adrian Guerra (Lethe) fills the spaces left by the mournful essence of this group with light touches of cymbal and the occasional mighty pounding needed to carry Longing into ever increasing despair. Bell Witch are intensely sorrowful and Longing is the most aptly titled record heard this year.
“Bails (of flesh)” begins with a tender pace set by Desmond’s bass – the wondrously overwhelming nature of funeral doom soon cloaks the music with a fierce melancholy and the slow and deliberate movement towards the closing stages is as painful as it is elegant. Gorgeous passages of clean vocal are hauntingly disparate and a feeling of utter hopelessness permeates the shadows of loss that Bell Witch inhabits. Longing is truly a force of wills; the terrible desolation of life swirls around the often grotesque moments of silence that Bell Witch allow to breathe through heavy rumbles of bass and drum and a yearning for oblivion is reached through to doomed landscapes of the world created by this band.
“Rows (of endless waves)” roils with a much more impassioned view and bursts forth from the closing seconds of “Bails (of flesh)” with a mighty and fearsome roar. Bell Witch certainly know how to play with the emotions and the second track soon descends into majestic territory, full of simple expressions of electric sound and beautifully grief-stricken vocal lines. This aura of complete and total annihilation follows Longing into the title track, “Longing (the river of ash)” and Bell Witch grow ever darker in their desperation for finality. This record is unrelenting in the sense that when you think you’ve reached a point of wanting to let go, to give up, and for it to be forever, it brings you to a place you never thought possible. A place even further away than ever imagined. It’s bleak and it’s terrifying in its quest for an end and for that, it is beautiful.