Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (Album Review)

There are hundreds of songs out in the world today that reach way past the ten-minute mark. No matter in what genre of music, there are bands out there that have been making long songs for many, many years. In truth, in the world of Doom Metal, bands play songs like this all the time. Bands like YOB, Grief, and Monarch have been rocking slow, overlong Doom songs for years – and to much joy and excitement from swarms of fans.

Then, in 2010, there came another entry into the realm of Doom in the form of Bell Witch. Hailing from Seattle, Washington, consisting of Bassist/Vocalist Dylan Desmond and the late Drummer Adrian Guerra, through the years Bell Witch released 2012’s Longing and 2015’s Four Phantoms. Building a following, fans have praised each album while extensive touring has helped bring Bell Witch to the forefront of the scene. 

Now, on Friday October 20, 2017, get out the headphones, brew some coffee, and ready that rocking chair next to the stereo, for Bell Witch returns with Mirror Reaper. Available thanks to Profound Lore Records, Mirror Reaper features not 10, not 8, but 1 track lasting over 80 minutes of pure ominous Doom Metal. This in mind, for this particular album, it is imperative to own a physical copy. Why? Because the cover art is fantastic and creepy-cool, too, thanks to Master Artist/Painter Mariusz Lewandowski.

It is, though, with unfortunate task to mention that, during the writing process of Bell Witch’s third album, in 2016, original drummer/founding member Adrian Guerra had passed away. As sad as that may be for a lot of people, it did not stop Desmond from pushing forth Bell Witch’s third album, Mirror Reaper, bringing in Jesse Shreibman just in time for a 2017 release. There is even speculation that most of Mirror Reaper is in dedication to Guerra. Nonetheless, his death stunned many fans as well as his close friends and family. 

With all the sadness and loss set aside, Bell Witch’s Mirror Reaper is like two-albums worth of music, practically broken into four 20-minute markers. It starts off with Desmond’s six-string bass, where only short notes are being plucked and strummed – either with finger or pick – setting the atmosphere of eerie gloom and sadness: a mood that will lay about the entirety of record.

After a few minutes of a slow-burning build-up, in comes the drums: bass drum banging, and the crash-cymbals splashing, making each hit sound like waves of water-explosions under a deep cavern from the ocean floor. There are growls heard soon after that are incoherent, but may just have been used to thicken the sound a little, being there is nothing more than a distorted bass guitar and drumming. 

After a long while, this phrasing will occur over and over again – going from big sounding band, to just the lonely sound of Desmond plucking straight notes on his bass. During this time, the bass is on its own while Desmond lends his voice to the song, which is very reminiscent of a younger Ozzy Osbourne and Mr. Geddy Lee being fused together, as maybe a lack for a better description. That in mind, Desmond has this way of making his melodies sound like someone is crooning the lonely souls within a graveyard. His vocals sound sweet, though, and have this sensation of sadness filling the undertone of each word. 

Overall, Mirror Reaper is neither groundbreaking, nor is it even inventive. There is nothing that stands out more about this album than any of Bell Witch’s previous work. If Four Phantoms were one long song, or even the Longing album, it would be just the same. Although, this is not negative. Some fans and critics have labeled Bell Witch as being part of the subgroup Funeral Doom while many others would be left stunned and amazed at such a label, and would strongly beg to differ. If you are hellbent on classification though, Bell Witch would fit more along the lines with groups Cough and Witch Mountain. 

For many eager fans waiting for a live performance: besides checking the band’s Bandcamp page, the new incarnation of Bell Witch is on an extensive tour the next couple of months. In particular, on November 6th, 2017, the band will be at the St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York. As for the record as a whole, for a decent effort at making an idea work, CrypticRock gives Mirror Reaper 3 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Mirror Reaper:

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