Bell Witch – Longing (Profound Lore Records)

Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

The second funeral doom band on Profound Lore to put an album out of importance in 2012 (the first being Pallbearer), Seattle’s Bell Witch are cut from nearly the same cloth, albeit with some minor tweaks and sawed-off melodies that make their Longing debut a valid entrant. While some of the songs are long enough to allow one to get up, make a sandwich, pump some iron, and come back to, the sullen, depraved vibrancy of the album’s six songs are enough to chalk this one up as a winner.

Comprised of the duo of Dylan Desmond (bass, vocals) and Adrian Guerra (drums, vocals), the duo immediately makes Longing a test of wills in the form of 20-minute opener “Bails (Of Flesh).” With tempos slow enough to bore Esoteric and possibly Skepticism, Bell Witch’s ability to allow plodding, yet melodic guitar lines to have their way without inspiring utter boredom is a near-marvel. It’s not all funeral doom and gloom, as “Rows (Of Endless Waves)” rolls out some Samothrace-like melodies, which in Blistering’s department, is a darn good thing. And Bell Witch does it just like Samothrace does, with drawn-out tempos and suffocating guitar lines. It’s solid gold when done right.

Bass booms and drum crashes serve to emphasize the points on “Longing (The River of Ash)” which is probably the album’s best song in light of the use of haunting clean vocals. This particular number becomes more of a hymn as it unfolds, with Desmond and Guerra using sparse dynamics (read: more melodic build-ups) to turn it into a 12-minute ode of isolation and utter despair.

Its appeal may be to only one particular segment and some of us lack any sort of patience, yet Longing becomes more captivating as it develops. Funeral doom/sludge albums like this aren’t supposed to have this type of depth and persuasion. A sterling debut.

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