Bell Witch

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About Bell Witch

A melancholic metal duo based in Seattle, Washington, Bell Witch have developed a potent, minimalist vein of doom, sludge, and post-metal. Named for a folkloric poltergeist, the band's slow, heavy music is all-encompassing; it is by turns melodic, sorrowful, and brooding unto malevolence. Reviewers regularly commented on the juxtaposition of emotional power and brutal physicality in their sound. Founder/bassist Dylan Desmond claims the band's M.O. from day one was to compose and play aural ghost stories. A listen to their earliest recordings, such as their 40-minute long-playing demo, underscores this impression; by the time they released 2018's Mirror Reaper, a single 87-minute track composed while in mourning, they'd come to embody that M.O. Formed around the talents of drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra and bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond in 2010, the duo released an eponymous, album-length demo. Comprised of short intro and outro bookends, at its heart were two excruciatingly molasses-like extended-length jams that offered their now-trademark brand of glacial melancholy and foreboding. Received with great enthusiasm in the metal press and online, they signed to Profound Lore for their debut album, Longing, in 2012, mixed by Brandon Fitzsimons. Plodding, serpentine, and crushingly heavy, two of the album's six tracks were over ten-minutes long, and one was over 20. Four Phantoms followed in 2014, as did tours of Europe and the U.S., during which time, Guerra's increasing alcohol usage became a bone of contention between the pair. Desmond's longtime roommate, Jesse Shreibman, mixed live sound for the band and acted as a road manager. He interceded for Desmond with Guerra and vice-versa to alleviate tensions and build bridges. However, after completing their touring obligations and beginning work on another album, Desmond, frustrated by what he perceived was his own enabling of Guerra's continued alcohol abuse, asked his friend to leave in 2015, which he did amicably. Desmond then asked Shreibman to replace him. The latter had long heartfelt conversations with Guerra, which smoothed the transition and earned the latter's blessing. In 2016, while composing music, Guerra passed away in his sleep due to a heart attack. He was 36. Desmond and Shreibman basically stopped playing, uncertain of how to proceed given their crushing sense of loss. They eventually reconvened in 2017, completing the group's third studio long-player, Mirror Reaper. Released at the end of October, the 87-minute single track was recorded as an homage to Guerra and used his scratch vocals throughout. Reviews proved overwhelmingly positive, garnering the band high-profile touring dates all over the globe. In 2018, an archival gig recorded in 2015, Live at Roadburn, was issued, featuring one of Guerra's final performances. One of the contributors to Mirror Reaper (and indeed much of Bell Witch's catalog) was Erik Moggridge, the singer and principal musician behind Aerial Ruin. Given his long association with Bell Witch, the intention for a collaboration between the two acts was for each to showcase songs of the other's. That idea was pushed to the wayside in favor of an actual collaboration, which made sense given Aerial Ruin and Bell Witch's similar thematic musical concerns with the loss of self as a requirement for a redemptive spiritual journey. Together, they conceptually plotted and tackled a story from The Golden Bough, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer in 1890. The tale depicts the lot of a slave who emerges to slay the king only to fall prey to the same trappings of luxury, creature comforts, paranoia, jealousy, the false notion of permanence, and of course became enslaved by them all. The finished project, Stygian Bough Volume One, was released in the summer of 2020. ~ James Christopher Monger & Thom Jurek

Seattle, WA, United States
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