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Bell Witch
Bell Witch
Bell Witch circa 2017.
Background information
Origin Seattle, Washington, USA
Genres Funeral Doom Metal, Death/Doom, Doom Metal
Years active 2010 - Present
Labels Profound Lore Records, Roadburn Records
Associated acts Lethe, This Building Is Cursed, Samothrace, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Battlefields, Black Hole of Calcutta, The Makai, Transient, Morose, Shadow of the Torturer, Sod Hauler, Aerial Ruin
Website Bell Witch Facebook
Current members Dylan Desmond
Jesse Shreibman
Past members Adrian Guerra
Band Logo
Bell Witch Logo
Bell Witch are a funeral doom band from Seattle, Washington. Active since 2010, this duo composes a sound of bleak, punishing slows through a dirge-like yet eclectic sound. With "Longing" and "Four Phantoms" gaining critical praise and the band themselves touring around the world over the career it would be their 2017 effort "Mirror Reaper" that gained significant critical praise and made marks on numerous album of the year lists.

Their musical themes are heavily based in pain, suffering, death, ghosts and a general theme of the supernatural. The band's name itself derives from the haunting because "it's arguably the most infamous ghost story in formal United States history.".[1]

HistoryEdit

Bell Witch 3 March 2011

Bell Witch's original lineup performing at 2 Bit Saloon 13 March 2011.

Bell Witch's beginnings date back to 2010 when the group was founded by the duo of Desmond and Guerra in Seattle, both of whom previously played in an instrumental stoner band named Lethe. The duo would begin to compose a doom sound far unlike some of their previous efforts, drawing towards funeral doom like Ahab and Esoteric along with death/doom like Winter. Eventually in 2011 the band would play their earliest known shows, with the first show originally intending to be a one-off deal when Lethe was unable to perform. Eventually the group would begin performing more and releasing a self-titled demo on 3 October 2011, spanning 37 minutes. In support the band would tour the West Coast of the USA.

In an interview with Funeral Wedding, Adrian Guerra explained the origins of the group, how the initial live performance was intended to be a one-off and the process of recording the first demo:

"We started this project to do only one show. Our good friend asked our old band Lethe to play, but we couldn’t. Our guitar player had left the band. Then we were asked how about just the two of us play. We were up for the challenge as we started rehearsing a week before our first show. Again, this was only suppose to be a “one off” show. We were not going to proceed on the project, but if felt right after our performance that we needed to continue. Or chose to continue for that matter. Dylan, and I had wanted to make heavier, and darker music. As Lethe was an instrumental sludge/stoner rock/psychadelic band. We have both have always been into the “doom” scene here in the United States from our previous bands and love for the genre.

So, after that first show we started rehearsing tremendously, and started writing our demo, and other songs that made it to our full-length. We were playing shows here locally in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle/Portland), and receiving good feedback. The “Demo 2011” was recorded in July 2011 in 3 days with our comrade Brandon Fitzsimons. Brandon also worked with all our previous bands, and has almost recorded everything I have done in the past amongst other great artists. As soon as we received our “Demo 2011” in the mail, we jumped in the van for our first West Coast Tour in October 2011."

 
— Adrian Guerra, Funeral Wedding[2]

Eventually the group would be signed by Profound Lore Records in early 2012, beginning work on their debut studio album. Recording in May 2012, Longing would be released on 13 November 2012 via Profound Lore, with a full tour of the United States to follow. Longing itself has been praised by critics such as Pitchfork (..."like Om learning of a terminal illness diagnosis.")[3] and Metalsucks (...if you’re looking for doom — not some Rush-esque bullshit about dragons, but doom, crumbling horrific doom — then Longing will scratch your awful itch.)[4] Gaining a worldwide audience through Profound Lore, the band (Along with Samothrace) would embark on their first European tour the next year, their first European appearance being at Heavy Days in Doomtown in Copenhagen, Denmark on 3 May 2013.

The duo would start focusing on recording a new album with the likes of Billy Anderson under the engineering helm. Four Phantoms would be released on 28 April 2014 to further critical praise, leading to a west coast tour before the band embarked on their most productive touring phases of their career the next year, touring Europe and the USA twice. This included appearances at Roadburn Festival, a second appearance at Heavy Days in Doomtown, and sharing the stage with the likes of Ulcerate, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Enslaved and Sleep to name a few. However, due to personal and health conflicts, Adrian Guerra would depart from Bell Witch that same year with Jesse Shreibman of grindcore band Transient joining as his replacement. For three months the band also served as touring musicians for avant-garde post-metal group Wrekmeister Harmonies along with performing with Bell Witch, with select dates performing alongside Pallbearer.

The duo of Desmond and Shreibman would begin progress on a new album sometime after in 2016, building around a single song with two major sections. However, tragedy would strike the group as founding member Adrian Guerra passed away on 17 May 2016 at the age of 35. The band would keep working on the record and integrate unreleased vocals by Guerra in their next studio effort ultimately being a tribute to him, as Shriebman would also say in an interview with Bandcamp: “His death definitely changed the way we looked at what we were doing at the time. We wanted to make sure to honor him the best we could, all while making sure we were doing something unique from the previous recordings.”[5]

Bell Witch's third studio album Mirror Reaper would see release on 20 October 2017 with two tours of the USA built around it. A single 84-minute composition built around the concept of death and grief, Mirror Reaper attained widespread critical acclaim from the likes of MetaCritic (85/100 as of December 2017, indicating "universal acclaim"), an A- rating from AVClub[6] and 8.0 from Pitchfork[7] among others. The album would be listed as #1 on The Best Metal of 2017 from PopMatters among other rankings (13 on Rolling Stone's 20 Best Metal albums, 11 on Decibel's Top 40 of 2017 and 10 on Loudwire's top 25 Albums of 2017). The band performed roughly half of the album live in concert throughout 2017.

The band intends to support Mirror Reaper with a tour of Europe in 2018 alongside Aerial Ruin and Monarch!. The band is also set to perform two nights at Roadburn Festival that year, one night performing the entirety of Mirror Reaper with regular guest vocalist Erik Moggridge and the second night performing the two songs featuring Moggridge from the previous albums.[8] The band's live performance from 2015, titled Live at Roadburn 2015, would be released on 22 April 2018. The band has since followed with USA tours alongside Sleep and Yob. The band would close out 2018 with appearances at Quebec Death Fest, Days of Darkness and a tour through theaters in Europe performing the entirety of Mirror Reaper.

Following extensive touring in support of Mirror Reaper, on 3 December 2019 it would be announced that Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin would appear at Fire in The Mountains circa July 2020 with a new collaborative set.[9] A tour with Coffins, Petrification and Ilsa would be announced for May 2020 two months later.

DiscographyEdit

MembersEdit

  • Dylan Desmond - Bass, Vocals (2010 - Present)
  • Jesse Shreibman - Drums, Vocals (2015 - Present)
  • Adrian Guerra - Drums, Vocals (2010 - 2015; died 2016)
  • Erik Moggridge - Additional Vocals (2011 - Present); Live Vocals (2018)

ToursEdit

  • November 2011 West Coast Tour (2011)[10]
  • Longing United States Tour (2012)[11][12]
  • 2013 European Tour (With Samothrace) (2013)[13]
  • September 2013 USA Tour (With Windhand, Aerial Ruin on select dates) (2013)
  • August 2014 West Coast Tour (With Ephemeros) (2014)
  • 2015 European Tour (April/May) (With Profetus) (2015)
  • 2015 East Coast USA Tour (2015)
  • 2015 European Tour (October/November) (With Ulcerate) (2015)
  • December 2015 USA Tour (With Wrekmeister Harmonies) (2015)
  • Winter 2016 USA Tour (With Wrekmeister Harmonies, Pallbearer on select dates) (2016)[14]
  • Western U.S. 2017 (With Intronaut) (2017)[15]
  • Primitive Man & Bell Witch MMXVII (With Primitive Man, Monarch!) (2017)[16]
  • Mirror Reaper European Tour (With Monarch!, Aerial Ruin) (2018)[17]
  • June 2018 North American Tour (With Sleep) (2018)
  • Our Raw Heart North American Tour (With Yob) (2018)[18]
  • Existential Void Guardian Australian Tour (With Conan) (2018)
  • Mirror Reaper October Mini-Tour (2018)[19]
  • Mirror Reaper Winter European Tour (2018)[20]
  • 2019 Japan Tour (With Primitive Man, Coffins) (2019)[21]
  • 2019 North American Tour (With Neurosis, Deafkids on select dates) (2019)[22][23]
  • May 2020 North American Tour (With Coffins, Petrification, Ilsa; In collaboration with Aerial Ruin; Canceled) (2020)[24]

External LinksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Wormwood ChroniclesAccessed 16 December 2017
  2. Funeral Wedding Interview: Bell Witch, accessed 16 December 2017
  3. PitchforkAccessed 16 December 2017
  4. MetalsucksAccessed 16 December 2017
  5. Bandcamp
  6. A.V.Club
  7. Pitchfork
  8. MetalWarzone666 on YouTube
  9. Bell Witch Facebook
  10. MySpace
  11. Myspace
  12. Bell Witch Blogspot
  13. Bell Witch Blogspot
  14. Bell Witch Facebook
  15. Facebook
  16. Facebook
  17. Facebook
  18. Yob Facebook
  19. Bell Witch Facebook
  20. Bell Witch Facebook
  21. Bell Witch Facebook
  22. Bell Witch Facebook
  23. Bell Witch Facebook
  24. Bell Witch Facebook
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