Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper (2017)

We are officially in December, so that means it is time for me to do two things. One is to begin working on my "best of" lists, and another is to catch up on music that I might have missed over the year, albums that a lot of people would consider to be the best of the best. One of those albums that got such a buzz was the third album by the funeral doom band Bell Witch, entitled "Mirror Reaper". While I did get the word on them quite early (mostly because of that Dark Souls inspired cover, one of my favourites of the year), I was not sure if I would really enjoy the record, this genre is not exactly my wheel house.

So why was I so hesitant with "Mirror Reaper"? The first clue is in the line up, which consists of Dylan Desmond on bass and vocals, and Jesse Shreibman on drums and vocals. Yep, no guitars on this band, and the vocals are kind of a side thing too, which means this is basically a big rhythm album. And I really mean big, because another thing that made me uneasy is the length of the album, which is 1 hour and 23 minutes, all "divided" into one song. Yes, it is one of those albums, a single, long ass song, without any guitars and very little vocals, all in a style that is very dark and dense. Jesus Christ, we are in for a special experience folks.

Like all of this was not enough, the album has even more meaning to it with the fact that one half of the original band died in between albums. The death of Adrian Guerra was untimely for sure, but it does add an extra layer of emotion to "Mirror Reaper" that simply would not be there otherwise. It is like he still is a part of the album, in every possible way. It is a great homage to a fallen brother.

A warning first to anyone who wants to try this album out, make sure that you have no other disturbances outside, because this is an album that demands its listener to be in a very calm and collected mood so that everything can be taken in. Also make sure that you have time, this is not an album that you just plug in and swallow quickly. To make it justice, you have to give it respect, sit down, and just relax. Once you do that, every carefully placed note, every drum hit, every line of vocals will hit you just right. It is an album that really deserves every bit of attention.

At the same time though, it is pretty difficult to keep your attention on this album. The whole album consists of long, slow notes that do create an amazing atmosphere, but because the entire album is more or less around the same wave length, it does become very tiring after a while. The struggle to keep your concentration levels in check is certainly real here, and for some, this album could just be outright boring. It does pick up some momentum towards the final 20 minutes, but that might be too little too late for most, and the change is not that significant either.

Unfortunately, I will most likely not listen to this album ever again. It is not that "Mirror Reaper" is a bad album, it is an emotional album that has an amazing atmosphere and well thought out writing that goes beyond the boundries of what metal can be. However, this is simply not an album for me, it is not an album that you can enjoy all that often, it requires certain specific moments to do so, and those moments are few and far between in my world. The length is excruciating, making it incredibly difficult to get through in one sitting. In the end though, I highly recommend this album to everyone, experience it at least once, it is most certainly one of the highlights of the year. Maybe not "best of" worthy, but it is a special one.

Songs worthy of recognition: Mirror Reaper (obviously)

Rating: 7,5/10 Mirror Reapers

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