Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bell Witch : "Four Phantoms "

Was looking forward to this new Bell Witch. The first song out the gate is 22 minutes long and they plod and drone with heavy hands the same melody for the first ten minutes,its a slooooow build.It's at the thirteen minute mark that they begin to have some motion in the ocean. All the sounds captured here are great. The guitar solos ring out more. It eventually builds into the clean vocal moan not unlike what we heard on their last album the road getting to it is just much longer. Fortunately not every song is twenty minutes , some of the writing is more  economical for example "Garden of blooming". The vocals have a more animalistic  intensity to the way the growls are layered which creates a crazy dynamic against where they band takes you into a chanting drone. They return with another twenty two minute slow burner on "Somiloquy( the distance forever). This is a gentler more melodic hesitance much like what Pallbearer does. The vocals that come in are almost sung like this was a folk album. I applaud the fact that they did not decide to deliver all the clean vocals in the same manner as they did on the last album which shows incredible growth. The vocals are harmonized in a unique manner, that retains the folk elements , but doesn't come across with the kind of cheese typical folk metal might.At the fourteen minute mark it starts to hypnotize me and drift off into the background, but I can't really fault it as that is the nature of the genre. Though this droning almost shoe gaze drift into the ether is more of the emphasis than just being heavy this go around.

The album closes out with the oppressive "Felled" (in howling wind). The vocals at times sound like howling wind. The first four minutes they pound out the same plodding riff with varying guitar melodies weeping over the procession. This one lives up to the sub-genres name more than the rest of the album. Overall I think I will give this one a 9, though due to the length of the songs it won't make it on the ole iPod, however the growth and new ground broken is undeniable. This is a beautiful album , I wish some of the songwriting could have gotten to the point as I think the same thing could have been conveyed at times in ten minutes, as the passages that droned on the same theme for so long with no change might have been abbreviated , I think the doom genre can stand at a tricky spot that borders on stagnation if they allow drone to over compensate for lack of songwriting. While it is not the case for this album I wonder if the band felt obligated to draw out certain passages so they would not be seen as any less relevant.

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