Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore Records, 10 October 2017)
Today we’re going to talk — again — about Bell Witch. Since the release of their demo recording back in 2011, this bass+drums+vocals duo of doom has been delighting our auditory cortices with a combination of immense gravitas and lofty, haunting melodies. With the departure of drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra following sophomore album Four Phantoms, bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond soldiered on with a new partner in Jesse Shreibman.
As observed in our 2016 review of that 2015 double-LP, the tragic passing of friend and former bandmate Guerra devastated the members of Bell Witch — who, as it turns out, had just started working together on the first new material with their current line-up. As you might expect, this event would certainly have a strong effect on the writing process, the result of which became Mirror Reaper, revealed to the world last fall.
With these guys hitting the road TONIGHT for a month-long expedition all over North America (including stops at two different festivals this weekend), alongside fellow Pacific Northwesterners Yob, we’ll spend some time with Mirror Reaper, and then share that list of tour dates down below.
Chrch – Light Will Consume Us All (Neurot Recordings, 11 May 2018)
Fister – No Spirit Within (Listenable Records, 18 May 2018)
Hey! Remember that incredible split of DOOOOOOM between California’s Chrch and Missouri’s Fister, that came out last November? We just wrote about it at the beginning of this year. Well, both of those bands recently wrapped up a joint European tour, and coincidentally they are both beginning a series of U.S. tour dates TONIGHT (although those will all be separate shows). Also, they both signed to new labels in the recent past (Neurot and Listenable respectively), and both bands have just released their first album on those labels within the past month.
In this article we’re going to talk about both of those albums, and then at the end will be a list of upcoming performances for each band. Prepare yourselves.
Venom Prison – Animus (Prosthetic Records, 14 October 2016 / deluxe edition 23 February 2018)
British death metal horde Venom Prison, who exploded into international consciousness with their Prosthetic-released debut album in late 2016, are currently touring North America with a whole bunch of other heavy hitters in the genre.
In fact, the month-long tour is a little more than halfway over, so we don’t want to waste any more time — here’s our write-up of Animus, and later you can see the full list of dates, plus a handful of European cities the band will be visiting in August with Dying Fetus!
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 02 September 2014)
Yob – Our Raw Heart (Relapse Records, 08 June 2018)
Oregonian doom trio Yob vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt has always had a distinctive voice. Whether it’s as a member of Lumbar or making a guest appearance with Red Fang or a whole plethora of others, there’s just no mistaking who is singing. Piercing and powerful, like Conan‘s Jon Davis, expressive and emotional like Argus/Molasses Barge‘s Butch Balich, and always just a bit grizzled and weathered like Wino or Lemmy.
But since the last time we heard from these guys (Clearing the Path to Ascend, which in a year filled with tough competition, still came out as our clear #1 album of 2014), some serious health complications cast some doubt as to whether we might ever hear that voice again. You can read all about that journey in this Rolling Stone interview, where the band’s sole remaining founding member (over twenty years ago!) describes his harrowing experiences while also discussing the creation of Our Raw Heart.
The album was “largely penned from what he worried would be his deathbed,” said the magazine, quoting Scheidt as saying, “there was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album.” Fortunately for himself, his family and friends, and also for everyone on planet earth who has ears, he did survive and he did record the album, which undoubtably will be contending for the same spot in this year’s list. In this post we’ll touch upon that record from four years ago, as well as the follow-up which hits stores TODAY. Furthermore, keep on scrolling to see a list of opportunities North American readers will have to experience Yob live: for one month (starting next Thursday, 14th June) with Bell Witch or again during September with Acid King and CHRCH.
Tombs – The Grand Annihilation (Metal Blade Records, 16 June 2017)
Hey! Remember almost a year ago when we let you know that Brooklynite post-black metal ensemble Tombs would be releasing a new record — the fourth full-length in their decade-plus of existence, which would be the first thing coming out via the band’s new relationship with Metal Blade? And furthermore, that it would be the first LP featuring [the bulk of] the new line-up that had debuted a year earlier on the All Empires Fall EP?
Well anyway, that happened, and with Tombs hitting the road tonight for a handful of shows across the northeast over the course of the next week, it seemed like an appropriate time to finally get around to sharing that new album with all you swell people. Those dates are listed down at the bottom of the page.
I can still vividly remember the first time I heard Graveyard: it was “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” the opening song from their 2011 album Hisingen Blues. High-energy electric country-blues with great wailing vocals, that could have fit seamlessly on side A of Led Zeppelin III (an album which, front to back, was unquestionably and irrefutably the finest output of Zeppelin‘s repertoire — please feel free to comment below if you disagree and I’ll gladly tell you how wrong you are), the song instantly hooked me and still hasn’t let go to this day.
After buying that CD shortly afterwards, the rest of the songs (like the title track and Uncomfortably Numb) pushed the Swedish retro-rock troupe onto my list of my favorite 2011 releases. And the following year, the promise of a Graveyard material was so appealing that we had pre-ordered Lights Out as soon as it was released.
Now, that one (the band’s third overall) came out to somewhat mixed reviews, and although the basic style and quality of performance were very similar to what had come before, I have to admit that there really didn’t seem to be the same “wow” factor, standout tracks that would stick in your head for days or weeks after hearing them. While it wasn’t a bad album by any measure, it didn’t quite pull me in for repeated listens nearly as many times as its predecessor had done. And the next thing I knew, the band had split up or gone on indefinite hiatus or something — which I remember feeling disappointment after learning, because it seemed like they had so much unrealized potential.
As an aside, I never even realized until just recently when this new record was announced, that they had actually put out a fourth one prior to disbanding. Somehow that news had completely escaped my attention and I’ll want to be sure to go check that out soon — but first, their big comeback album will be out tomorrow, so let’s talk about Peace!
Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot Recordings, 31 March 2015)
Ufomammut – 8 (Neurot Recordings, 22 September 2017)
The name Ufomammut seems to be one that we Americans tend to struggle with. But fortunately the band has been kind enough to explain its origin: “ufo” (OOH-foe) is the Italian word for “UFO,” while “mammut” (MAMM-utt) means “mammoth.” Therefore the correct pronunciation of the name would be “OOH-foe-MAMM-utt.” Got it?
The etymological origin of their name is also one of the most accurate descriptions a band has ever given itself, as this trio combine the mysterious spaced-out vibe of a flying saucer with the earth-shaking immensity of a prehistoric pachydermic behemoth.
And now, for the first time in two years, they are bringing this spectacle to North American soil: hitting Maryland Death Fest this weekend, as well as Northwest Terror Fest in early June, and then surrounding these dates with a month-long loop around the whole country that kicks off TONIGHT (Wednesday the 23rd) in Providence. Of course we’ll supply you with details about all these shows later. But first, an introduction to the band’s music for the uninitiated …