To that end, Profound Lore’s latest find is Bell Witch, a melodic, funeral/stoner doom outfit from Seattle, Washington. Longing is their first full-length album, and being released on Profound Lore, you know that you’re in for a quality listening experience.
Bell Witch do not disappoint. Crushing waves of riffs, a slow, glacial percussion and deeply growled vocals are heralds of things to come right from the start with “Bails (Of Flesh),” a twenty plus minute opus to open the album.
However, deeper in, Bell Witch subtly shift away from a crushing style of funeral doom, and move more towards a looser style of melodic, stoner doom, that nebulous genre typified by bands such as Samothrace and Atriarch; at least, the band that Atriarch was on their debut album, Forever The End (perhaps not so coincidentally, Atriarch have recently joined Profound Lore’s roster for the release of their second album).
Clean vocals begin to slowly replace the deep growls as you progress further and further into Longing, and soon dominate the album’s latter half. Riffs begin to fade, and lightly strummed, yet still distorted guitar eventually becomes the focus as Bell Witch increasingly become more atmospheric.
All of it is certainly pulled off in a thoroughly mesmerizing manner, but Bell Witch seem to lack the subtle catchiness of Samothrace, a band with an obviously similar sound. Somewhat annoyingly, the clean vocals have a rather distracting nasal inflection, particularly on the second track, “Rows (Of Endless Waves),” but the depressive atmosphere kicks into high gear with the album’s shorter tracks, which are a bit more focused and serve to bring the album to a soaring, and then fading, conclusion.
Minor problems aside, Longing by Bell Witch is a fantastic debut, and fans of stoner doom will, no doubt, rejoice in another new band to revel in.
(released November 13, 2012 on Profound Lore Records)