Of all the oddities that I’ve come across in my long, never-ending journey of becoming a full-fledged metalhead there’s one thing that I prize above all else: albums that consist of one song. I don’t mean a standalone single or mere 7″ promotional piece. I’m talking about extremely long-winded albums that are made up of songs that stretch to over 35 fucking minutes long! It’s such a rare occurrence in my daily life that I’ve come to see them as a treasure, and today one of the most prolific doom metal bands has released one such marvel. Bell Witch has always been a name to know for all doom fans, but this record is such a game changer that it’s fucking maddening.
Three months ago when the mind-boggling marvel of “Mirror Reaper”, I already knew that this record was going to be something special for one incredible reason: the album will stand tall as a monolithic one track album that clocks in over a whopping 86 minutes! That’s fucking madness to me as the longest I’ve heard is 45-minutes for metal with so many different parts to it (see Inter Arma’s “The Cavern”) and ambient collaborations that clock in over an hour per track, but that’s a genre for another day. To sit down and go “I’m going to listen to this in one session” is a mammoth task for anyone who wants to analyze it and then type words about it like me. So, I ditched such an approach and just allowed the Mirror Reaper itself to take me through its world of dark and flame that Bell Witch conjured for this effort. That approached proved very successful as I closed this album (after two consecutive listens, mind you) going through a terrifically illustrated realm painted with the feelings of loss, despair, melancholy, yet with a dash of light.
Many albums have a topic about them of which they’re crafted around. Unfortunately, the topic for Bell Witch when they penned their third full-length album was death. The death of a band member is one that can understandably cripple a band to leave them not wanting to continue on. It’s happened the plenty of past legends and modern household names of metal, and we couldn’t have blamed Bell Witch should they have decided to cease activity under the same name. Yet, they proceeded after losing their vocalist/drummer and found someone they felt was worthy to fill his shoes. “Mirror Reaper” stands as a truly epic lament of the band to someone that they’ve held very dear whilst displaying the musical prowess, ingenuity, and being straight up master of funeral doom in ways that no other modern band of the style can pull off, and that makes both this album and Bell Witch even more ridiculous because of that. Outside of getting the obvious heaviness that Bell Witch has become known for, they fill out this 86-minute epic with calmer moments of looming terror, and the same goes for the vocals. We’re used to Bell Witch having a very deep, guttural growl to narrate its passages and we definitely still get that with “Mirror Reaper”, but we’re also thrown a curve ball as the vocals swap from growls to actual singing that really pulled off in showing a different side of what Bell Witch can create. The album also stands as incorporating ethereal rhythms into the mix with a much more potent result that really brings “Mirror Reaper” to a new level above the tens of millions of other albums this world has seen for a while, and that’s far from an exaggeration.
I do my best to not let my expectations get the better of me as I try to be critical yet allow myself to enjoy the material at hand, so trying to not fanboy the fuck out of Bell Witch because it’s Bell Witch is a bit of a task, but there’s simply no denying the badassery that is this record and what a fucking achievement it is by all standards. “Mirror Reaper” is so much more than we could’ve ever asked for, and if you’ve ever wanted an elite doom metal experience that’s both marvelously grand and immensely cinematic.
LISTEN to “Mirror Reaper” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Bell Witch on Facebook here.
FOLLOW Bell Witch on Twitter: @BellWitchdoom