Monday, November 26, 2012

Bell Witch: Longing (2012)

I Wait (for It to End)

I consider myself a huge fan of the slowest kinds of doom metal. I also consider myself a discerning fan. There are those fans of the funeral/drone doom varieties who are not so discerning, and will ascribe genius to just about anything that comes along. Then there are those who don’t get it at all and don’t claim to. I’m not sure what combination of those types conspired to unleash Bell Witch’s debut, Longing. For people who fall into the last camp, this is all you need to know: The record is sixty-seven minutes that are essentially divided into four songs, a six minute interlude with a movie sample, and a three minute outro. Other than the twenty minute opening track, the other three proper songs are about twelve minutes.

For those undaunted by the track lengths, there is a lot of promise to be found in any brief sampling of the music. Here and there, you’ll find melody that’s compelling, or heavy guitars with death growls, and some clean singing that betrays a crushed soul.

Yet, there is one key difference that separates Bell Witch from similar bands that do this kind of thing brilliantly (e.g., Loss), or even passably (e.g., Aldebaran). Bell Witch don’t play like they mean it. They sound fucking bored. I don’t claim to know what the trick is, although my first suspect is always percussion. To play at this tempo does not mean you have to play like a middle schooler reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at half speed. After four and a half listens (I couldn’t make it through the last time) that is the only conclusion I can come to. Well, there’s that, and they seem to be dedicated to excessive track lengths for their own sake. Reference the first paragraph. There’s no good reason for a six minute interlude with a movie sample.

The Verdict: 1 out of 5 stars

Buy Longing


  1. I'd give the album a higher rating overall, but as much as I like it, I have to agree about the movie sample. Vincent Price was truly bad-ass, but that interlude just sits there like a rock. I'll give them slight credit for not going to the more common choice, Mad Max. I swear I have the whole damn trilogy on my iPod in the form of samples in metal songs.

  2. Haven't heard the album yet, but absolutely loved their demo. And so did you apparently. Two songs from the demo are on Longing (including the Vincent Price piece), so what happened? Are the the new songs that bad, or did you simply change your mind?

    Anyways, I very much look forward to when Profound Lore uploads this to their Bandcamp.

  3. I couldn't disagree with this more. For me, doom metal is about maintaining tension, and Bell witch do that superbly. Thematically, I think that the sample fits very well, and the whole thing just flows so well.

  4. Max, I have no idea what happened. Like I said, they just sound bored (I'm still blaming percussion). I also can't think of any album I like that's quite this slow and doesn't have a massive wall of sound. This is pretty spare.

    Zamaan, I agree that a lot of doom metal is about maintaining tension (certainly not old-school doom, but the slower kinds anyway). I will say this, though: Look at how much better Evoken does it. I wish I would have thought this up in time to put it in the review, but here's the one-liner: It sounds like they were bored, and never got around to recording a good take or tracking the rest of the instruments.