13. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore)
Back when I was a regular visitor to the Roadburn festival, a favourite thing of mine to do was to take a break from all the endless standing, take in a doom performance in the afternoon, and sit. Sit and listen, lose myself in the music while giving my body a much-needed rest. You see, I have very little patience for doom metal in venues that don’t offer seating. Only a special few bands like SubRosa, Sleep, Candlemass, YOB, Conan, and Witch Mountain hold my attention while standing, and when it comes to the long, drawn out sounds of funeral doom, there’s no way I can endure it on my feet. When Bell Witch announced that their new album would be a single, 83-minute track, my mind immediately reverted back to that brutal Roadburn exhaustion, and I immediately wondered how anyone would ever want to sit and listen to 83 minutes of funeral doom. The idea to me is repellent. Or so I thought. Once I sat down to actually listen to it, it clicked like no other funeral doom record has done for me before. The heaviness was there, as the subgenre demands, but what was most discernable was melody, emotion, nuance, soul. The best review of Mirror Reaper was actually one line: “The musical equivalent to a Tarkovsky film.” Like the slowest, most majestic doom, Tarkovsky’s greatest movies require patience, meditation, and immersion, and once you lose yourself in Mirror Reaper you are led through a journey through the deepest sorrow, but also the most aching beauty. When this monstrous record takes a turn toward the mellow just prior to the hour mark, with Erik Moggridge singing in a very fragile tenor voice, that’s when you realize this two-piece band has made the leap from upstarts to something truly special. I can even go as far as to say that Mirror Reaper is the most beautiful funeral doom album I have ever heard, if not the very best. It is a transformative experience.