Rage and Frustration
Heavy Metal Reviews & Interviews
Bell Witch – Mirror Witch
Band – Bell Witch
Album – Mirror Reaper
Country of Origin – USA
Genre – Funeral Doom
Release Date – October 20th, 2017
Label – Profound Lore Records
Author – Hayduke X
Let’s start where we rightly should, by saying that Mirror Reaper is a magnificently beautiful album. Bell Witch uses space and silence the way other bands use tremolo picking or anguished vocals, which is to say, to create emotion. In fact, they prove themselves, through the 83 minutes of this magnus opus, to be among the best ever at using these techniques for this purpose. Given that the song is at least partly a tribute to former drummer Adrian Guerra, who left the band in 2015, then passed during the creation of Mirror Reaper, it makes sense that the current duo would have much emotion from which to draw. They even include some previously unreleased vocal work by Guerra on this album, adding to the weight of the grief drawn forth. There are some (many really) moments on here that literally make my neck hairs stand on end. Dylan Desmond (bass, vocals) and Jesse Shreibman (drums, vocals) channel emotion in a visceral manner and then distill it into concentrated form.
Now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. Based on what I’ve been catching over social media from friends and fellow metalheads, the following comments will likely make me unpopular. As stellar as so many moments of this album are, at 83 minutes, Mirror Reaper is just too damn long. I’ve listened multiple times, including at least twice where I’ve listened, headphones on, start to finish, uninterrupted, and doing nothing else. There are moments throughout where the album loses me, where I tune out and move mentally on to something else. The duo do always draw me back, to their credit, but the fact that I drift away (and not into some ethereal mental space, but instead to something mundane like a shopping list) tells me that there is some fat to cut here. I’d recommend that twenty minutes or so could be cut. The album would still be an hour or more long, but would be tighter, and therefore more powerful. Full disclosure: I say this as a fan, not a musician.
In the final analysis, my second paragraph is outweighed by my first. In many ways, Mirror Reaper is exceptional. There are no bad moments, just some that are perhaps weak. There is nowhere on the album where I cringe. I would recommend this album to anyone, with that caveat that it takes effort to listen to. You kind of have to go straight through to get the full effect. There is no middle ground. Finally, some mention needs to be made of the artwork, a stunning painting by Mariusz Lewandowski. This could be the best album artwork of the year. It should certainly be considered to be in the running.
Recommendation: Overall, worth the time expended.