Finishing off today's doom trilogy I have traveled, in a sense, to Seattle in the US of A for the debut album of sludge/drone doom duo Bell Witch entitled "Longing".
As if the immaculate artwork for "Longing" wasn't enough, opening track "Bails (Of Flesh)" has been one of my favourite songs for the best part of this year when I first heard Bell Witch. It's long drawn out notes, the darkness that it shrouds itself in and the very subtle colder guitar tones that permeate the track giving it a depressive, despondent aura are simply breath taking. Never in a rush to get from the start to the finish, things crawl painstakingly along until the first roar of the anguished growled finally pierces the gloom which the band hath made!
There is a dense under laying ferocity about Bell Witch, a deep cavernous sense of foreboding that increases progressively as the music continues along it's blackened and withered path. Yet with extreme heaviness also comes great subtlety and grace and in places this doom duo dispense with the bombardment and offer up a more melodic interlude or two, almost peaceful as the atmosphere changes overhead to one of hope mixed with a melancholy sorrow, the burning anger for the time being laid dormant under the surface. If I have one criticism of this album and it is only the one, I'd say whilst I see the need for cleaner vocals in places to mirror the bands style changes, they do need to be of a better quality than what is currently on offer, at least in places. At others they seem well executed and it may be a problem in production.
Luckily cleaner vocals are in the minority on this album, an album which as any decent drone influenced affair does amount to epic track lengths and hence as they are in the minority my one and only gripe is a small one and can make way for the adulation of a truly superb body of work! An album of contrasts is what "Longing" serves up, from the darkest recesses of their collective minds comes a hint of light in places. In an ocean of undulating and churning ferocity comes an interlude of peace and reflection, yet at all times the sheer quality shines through!
8/10 - Luke Hayhurst