Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (2017)

Bell WitchMirror 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.

 

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Insect Ark – Marrow Hymns (2018)

Insect ArkMarrow Hymns (Profound Lore Records, 23 February 2018)

 

Bi-coastal DOOM duo Insect Ark is made up of film music composer and animator Dana Schechter (Angels of Light, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Zeal & Ardor, Gnaw) on bass and lap steel, and electronics expert Ashley Spungin (Taurus, Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Negative Queen) on drums as well as various synths and analog noise pedals she created herself. With this unique arrangement (featuring zero electric guitars, in the traditional sense), the instrumental assembly has brought forth their latest sonic creation (through a combination of long-distance collaboration and in-studio cooperation).

Although nearly two months have passed since the record’s Profound Lore release, last night (Sunday, 15 April) was the celebratory release show in Brooklyn. Next up, the pair will be hitting the Roadburn stage later this week followed by a month-long tour through Europe. You can find a listing of all those dates at the bottom of the page, but first, check out Marrow Hymns!

 

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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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Lord Mantis – Death Mask (2014), NTW (2016)

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Lord MantisDeath Mask (Profound Lore Records, 29 April 2014)

 

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Lord MantisNTW (New Density Records, 29 April 2016)

 

In early 2015, the whole world was shocked and saddened to learn that Chicagoan misanthropic miscreants Indian were calling it quits. Maybe “the whole world” is a sight exaggeration, but for myself and everyone I know, it was difficult news — especially since it came just a year after the band had released what was unquestionably their best album to date.

But then that blow was softened a bit almost immediately after, when another huge announcement shook the metal world: that closely-related Chicago band Lord Mantis had parted ways with some of its members, leaving only founding drummer Bill Bumgardner and Andrew Markuszewski who had been the lead guitarist for nearly all of that band’s releases. Augmenting this newly depleted line-up would be most of the folks who had just left Indian — in addition to Bumgardner who had also been playing drums in that band for years, ex-Indian guitarist Will Lindsay (also a member of Anatomy of Habit) would be joining on bass, and former Indian guitarist/vocalist Dylan O’Toole (who has also appeared as part of the Wrekmeister Harmonies ensemble) would now be handling Lord Mantis vocal duties. And finally, rounding out the line-up by joining Markuszewski on guitar, Scott Shellhamer of yet another great Chicago band, American Heritage.

This shakeup didn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who’d been paying attention to the goings-on surrounding Mantis; even in the press release for their last album, 2014’s Death Mask, it mentioned rumblings of turbulence among the band’s members at that time. And the new additions seemed like a perfectly logical choice, as not only had these guys all known each other and been friends for years, but Lindsay and O’Toole had each made contributions to the band previously, including guest appearances on Death Mask.

But now, finally, the result of all of these moving pieces has come to fruition, as the first recording by the new Lord Mantis is being released tomorrow — exactly two years (to the day) after Death Mask, the band’s own New Density will unleash the EP NTW. In this article we’ll take a look at the new EP as well as the album that preceded it. And for those who would like to learn more about how all these changes have affected the band from the perspective of its members, don’t miss this interview where they’ve answered some questions provided by members of Slaves BC!

 

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Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (2014)

In the VIP section (balcony) at Mr. Small's Theatre (Pittsburgh), February 2013

In the VIP balcony at Mr. Small’s Theatre (Pittsburgh), February 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: for nearly two years, the Arkansas melodic doom quartet Pallbearer has been among my wife’s absolute favorite bands. I know she’d been eagerly snapping up every available bit of information leading up to the release of their second album; now that it’s been released, we listened to it together, and she had some strong reactions and opinions — so I asked whether she wanted to write something about it. So here is her review of Foundations of Burden.

 

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PallbearerFoundations of Burden (Profound Lore Records, 19 August 2014)

reviewed by Asya Yanyo

 

I first heard Pallbearer in December of 2012 on accident. I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a video that someone had posted, which I thought was something else. I clicked on it, I listened and I had no idea what I was in for ultimately. I have to admit, I felt an immediate kinship to this music. For much of my life, I have felt an attachment to a darker side of my personality; I often embrace being melancholy and don’t always see it as the burden that some people do with those types of emotions. Pallbearer definitely tapped into that for me. I felt instantaneously connected to each riff and sludgy chord. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, this band is mainly responsible for so much of the music I have discovered in this journey with my husband over the past three years. It’s clearly felt personal to me and I am sure, with all the recent hype, that I am not the only one who enjoys dwelling in the despair.

 

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Agalloch – The Serpent & the Sphere (2014)

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AgallochThe Serpent & the Sphere (Profound Lore Records, 13 May 2014)

 

So tomorrow is the day when we’ll be making the trek west to Ohio, because Agalloch‘s tour will be hitting Cleveland. (Read all the details of that tour right here. I’ve been pretty excited about this for a while — I may only have discovered the band within the past few years, but quickly I found their style of vast, atmosphere-infused black/folk metal to be right up my alley. I enjoyed all the songs I’d heard (on Pandora or wherever) from their earlier albums like The Mantle and Ashes Against the Grain, so I thought I had a general idea of what this band was about, and I thought I knew basically what to expect from the upcoming show.

But no, honestly I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what happened when — partly out of curiosity, partly to get familiar with some of their newer stuff — I headed over to the Agalloch Bandcamp page and hit PLAY on their recently-released album The Serpent & the Sphere. I found myself instantly blown away by what I was hearing, a reaction that continued throughout the next fifty-nine minutes or so, through the conclusion of all nine tracks. I decided right then, even though this year isn’t even halfway over yet, that I find it unlikely I’ll hear anything better than this in 2014.

I hadn’t even really planned on writing this, but this was just one of those rare occasions where something caught my attention and spoke to me so much, I felt like I had to make sure other people knew about this record too.

 

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Tours Galore: Agalloch Hitting the Road Throughout North America

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The Agalloch “Serpens in Cvlmination” Tour Begins its Trek Across North America

 

Last month, Portlandian atmospheric black/doom/folk band Agalloch released The Serpent & the Sphere, their fifth full-length over the past fifteen years (and the second on Profound Lore). In support of this new album, the band is heading out all across North America — starting tomorrow night (Wednesday, 18 June 2014) and running for about three weeks. On various dates of the tour, they will be joined by Obsidian Tongue, Vex, Jex Thoth, Thrones, and — for one lucky city — Musk Ox, the folk trio led by guitarist Nathanaël Larochette, who wrote and performed several interludes on The Serpent & the Sphere.

Personally, I’ll be making the trip out to Cleveland for the show this coming Saturday, and really excited since it’ll be my first time seeing Agalloch. See below for the full list of dates…

 

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