Published Oct 23, 2017Bell Witch's third LP is over 80 minutes long and consists of one sprawling opus of a track. The band has always been adept at crafting delicate but powerful doom metal, spacing out heavier, riff-oriented moments with ethereal instrumental passages, but that accessible structure reaches a creative apex in the labyrinthine twists and turns of Mirror Reaper.
The ominous atmosphere that saturates the record contains pockets of beauty and reflection that are indicative of its dualistic conceptual themes. Honorary third band member Erik Moggridge makes a welcome appearance, providing clean vocals that provide contrast to the more guttural stylings of the core group. Drummer Jessie Shriebman also inserts ghostly layers of Hammond organ, which add a foggy depth to the band's sound and give the impression that their performance was recorded in a vaulted cathedral or mausoleum.
Mirror Reaper is the first Bell Witch release composed by the new lineup since the departure of Adrian Guerra in 2015; the former drummer's untimely death shortly thereafter informs the album's sombre mood and existential lyrics. The band explore the dichotomy of life and death here, nodding to ideas from Hellenistic philosophy with reference to eternal natural cycles and metaphors for time as flowing water. This imagery is paralleled by a carefully circling and developing instrumental undercurrent that churns slow, trudging melodic phrases into a crushing maelstrom at the centre of the record's first movement.
The record's transitional point, just after the 50-minute mark, is precipitated by a chilling clip of Guerra's vocals left over from the recording of Four Phantoms, which serves as a tribute to his contribution to the genre of doom as a whole and an accenting of the shift in motif between the "As Above" and "So Below" movements of the larger piece.
The band noted in a press release that they feel as though Guerra would be proud of this composition and its heady lyrical discourse. It's both a touching and tragic sentiment, as Mirror Reaper is certainly an outstanding accomplishment in the Bell Witch catalogue. It may be their most emotionally stirring and musically ambitious record to date. (Profound Lore)