Bell Witch – Four Phantoms (2015)

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Bell WitchFour Phantoms (Profound Lore Records, 28 April 2015)

 

For those who may have missed the news, I’m very sad to report that yesterday we learned of a monumental loss to the music world, in the passing of Adrian Guerra, co-founder of Seattle doom duo Bell Witch, co-writer of all of that band’s material to date, and former drummer/vocalist (up through summer 2015).

After that time, his position behind the kit had been replaced by Jesse Shreibman, including on the band’s most recent tour where they pulled double duty — playing a full set of their own in addition to serving as the backing band for Wrekmeister Harmonies. But from the band’s inception through its formative years, it was Guerra and bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond from their groundbreaking 2011 demo (incidentally, one of the very first reviews ever published on this website, back in December of that year) up through and including last year’s Profound Lore full-length Four Phantoms.

In honor and in memory of the co-creator of some of the greatest and most moving music to have reached my ears over the past five years, today I’ve decided to present you with a discussion about that latest album, the last one to feature the original Bell Witch line-up. Rest in peace Adrian, and our thoughts and sympathy are with your friends and family, colleagues and former band members.

 

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Ghold – Of Ruin (2015), Pyr (2016)

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GholdOf Ruin (Ritual Productions, 16 March 2015)

 

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GholdPyr (Ritual Productions, 06 May 2016)

 

Hello out there — how is your Tuesday going? It’s almost time to go home and I’m totally ready for a nap. I feel pretty confident in saying I will probably be passed out on the bus ride home, if I even make it that far. And there’s another hockey game tonight, so if there’s going to be any hope of me staying awake to see that, maybe a late afternoon nap wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Before I go, though, it’s about time to share some more listening material with you fine people. Today that will consist of a pair of albums — one a little over a year old, the other released just four days ago — both by London stoner-sludge-grunge-noise band Ghold

 

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Writhe – The Shrouded Grove (2014)

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WritheThe Shrouded Grove (self-released, 22 September 2014)

 

“One-man black metal band” — or perhaps to be more accurate, “one-man black metal project.” What do you think of when you hear (read) those words? It sort of makes my skin crawl just to type them. In my line of work (expert music-opinion-haver), the phrase almost always means bad news: some kid who lives in his parents basement downloaded some pirated sound editing software onto his Macbook, cut-and-pasted the same generic drumbeat for twelve minutes, plugged his crappy guitar directly into the line-in input, screamed some stuff about the Impending Conquest of the Dark Lord Urkel Grue into the built-in laptop mic, and then ran the whole thing through some cheesy preset distortion plug-in. Then found some old black-and-white picture of some old buildings using Google image search, photoshopped some nonsense like “Desolation of Solitude” (using Parchment font) onto it, and then emailed it all to me. The message probably started out by saying “Infernal Hailz.” Never a good sign.

But today — surprise!! — I’m going to introduce you to something that goes against all of those stereotypes…

 

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Wrekmeister Harmonies – Night of Your Ascension (2015)

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Wrekmeister HarmoniesNight of Your Ascension (Thrill Jockey, 13 November 2015)

 

Well… here we are at the end of a dull, dreary Monday — looks like we’ve survived another one. And it’s a good thing, too, because I’ve got something pretty extraordinary to share with you this afternoon. It’s not often that you come across something that seems immediately transcendent — so otherworldly that it fully envelops the listener and transports you away from the surface level of consciousness — but that’s the case with Night of Your Ascension, the third album released by the American “pastoral doom” conglomerate known as Wrekmeister Harmonies. A late-year discovery for me (it just came out at the end of November), this LP nevertheless had such an instantaneous impact that I just had to include it among my list of 2015’s top releases.

This isn’t necessarily the type of material that really benefits from being written about, being described in words, so I’ll keep that part as brief as possible. Further down, you’ll have the opportunity to listen for yourself and get the full experience, and then you’ll understand. And even further down (in the comments section), I’ll be including the details of the group’s current North American tour with Bell Witch, so stay tuned for that!

 

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Crawl – Crawl Demo

 

CrawlCrawl Demo (self-released, 12 October 2012)

So who’s in the mood for some heavy doom with a nice dose of southern sludge??

Don’t bother answering that; it was a rhetorical question. Here we go…

There have been a few bands called Crawl over the years, but this one formed in Atlanta, in spring 2012. Most of what I hear coming out of Georgia nowadays is rather fuzzy and stonery; it’s clear these guys draw from SOME of the same influences as their fellow statesmen, but they also incorporate some darker elements of west coast doom and the weightiness of gulf coast sludge, for an amalgam that’s definitely worth checking out.

 
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Some Awesome News: New Bell Witch Album On Its Way Soon!!

 
Ladies and Gentlemen and whoever else may be out there reading this: I just have two words for you. FUCK YEAH, NEW BELL WITCH!

And following that, a few more words: SHUT UP, I KNOW IT WAS FIVE WORDS, I CAN COUNT, HONESTLY!

Anyway, believe it or not, it’s been almost a year since the official release of the band’s demo EP (see it reviewed described in excruciating detail here.) And now reports are starting to come in about their upcoming full-length debut album, so it’s definitely time to start getting excited…

 
Late last night I stumbled across this little gem from Profound Lore Records, revealing the title and release date, and a sneak peek at one of the tracks! Well, half of a track anyway — only about the first eleven minutes’ worth. But still.

 

BELL WITCH – Album/Tour Announcement, New MP3 Posted

Published September 11, 2012 | By Profound Lore Records

 
Seattle extreme doom metal duo Bell Witch, comprised of bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond (also of Samothrace fame) and drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra, have completed their soul crushing debut album Longing along with announcing a U.S. tour to coincide with the release of Longing respectively.

By creating massive, epic, and crushing soundscapes of doom, all this merely with just bass, drums, and a dual vocal pummel, Longing expands on the promise Bell Witch laid down with their 2011 demo, which was seen as one of the best doom metal demos of last year. Longing (which features guest vocals by Erik Moggridge of Aerial Ruin on the track “Rows”) is a slow, time-stretching trodden journey through sounds of darkness, pain, and suffering and serves as one of the saddest, morose, and most despondent, stripped down, doom metal releases of the year.
 
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Happy New Year!

Horns Up!

Happy New Year from everyone at Valley of Steel!

All the major holidays that comprise the “holiday season” have now come and gone, and life is starting to return to some sort of normalcy.  So I just wanted to throw this post out there to say hello to you, my Dear Loyal Reader, and to take a moment (as people so often do at this time of year) to look back and look ahead.

First of all, I’d like to reflect on the series of posts that were supposed to have been scheduled for the three days preceding Christmas Eve.  I screwed up, not correctly figuring out how to use the new version of the WordPress mobile app.  So unfortunately, the last two did not go live until well past Christmas.  Because they were actually published after the publication date listed, I’m not actually sure if the notifications were even sent out to those of you who are subscribed to the Valley Updates.  So in case any of these got lost in the shuffle, here is the whole three-part series on pre-Christmas doom metal:

Ever Circling WolvesChapter III EP review

Bell WitchBell Witch Demo 2011 review

(drama)Zastor Tišine review

Moving on from there, it’s now January, and this is typically considered a time of both reflection and renewal.  In the near future, you can expect more reviews and news, but there will be some new and different things popping up as well.  For example, I’m working on a couple of interviews right now, and possibly more to come after that; a brand-new periodic feature will be premiering soon, which spotlights unsigned and relatively unknown bands; and on top of all that, I’ve got a couple things written for publication elsewhere.  Suggestions of new topics or material for reviewing are always welcomed; please contact me if you are a band/label/promoter that would like my profound insights on something you are releasing or have released; also, don’t be afraid to leave some comments on this or any of the posts you read here, as I am always interested in what you have to say as well!

As always, please feel free to hit the “Click to Follow” button to receive Valley Updates via email, and don’t forget to “like” the Facebook page to keep informed that way, too!  And don’t be shy, share the blog or the Facebook with anyone you know who likes heavy music and knows how to read.

Thanks for all your support and again, have a happy new year!