The average football game lasts roughly three hours and twelve minutes. During that time there are numerous commercial breaks, TV timeouts, team timeouts, penalties, official reviews, challenges and, of course, the either 25 or 40 seconds between plays. So, across that three hours and twelve minutes there is very little action. You have ample time to eat snacks, go to the restroom, make a phone call, check on your fantasy team, call your bookie and place a wager, etc. The point is, there’s very little that actually happens, very few moments during which you must pay attention, during a typical NFL game. Mirror Reaper is painfully similar. Across the vast majority of the one hour and twenty-three minutes, mostly nothing happens. Ambient stretches without vocals cover the bulk of the single track release. It feels more like a band recording a practice session and hoping to come out of it with one or two good ideas for a song. They do actually accomplish that feat. There is easily eight to nine minutes of valuable songwriting that could make up maybe two songs on a normal release.
Label: Profound Lore.
The album (and it’s definitely an album and it’s definitely more than one song) opens beautifully. A slowly building drone crashing upon itself like waves upon a shore littered with seaweed and rotting carcasses of dead sealife. After seven minutes a growl creeps in from the depths, using heavy reverb to increase the atmosphere of cavernous doom. And here, here is a moment that is worth hanging onto. Worth keeping in the back pocket to build a song around. But, as is consistently revealed across what is essentially a public relations nightmare, Bell Witch fails to develop the idea and rather rides it, drowning it in the depths without anything positive or memorable coming of it.
There are a few moments on the album where clean vocals provided by Erik Moggridge (aka Aerial Ruin) that, in particular, lend themselves to inspiration. There’s hope there that tracks could be developed around this idea. But, instead of developing those ideas Bell Witch fall back onto open cymbals and slow, plodding guitar (the six-string bass kind) patterns suffocating the interesting compositional note into a holding pattern before it has time to fully develop. The main frustration here is that Bell Witch are capable of so much more, and they’ve shown flashes in the past.
As our lives become more complicated by technology it’s often interesting to explore the natural simplicity behind the theories that support these technologies. One dominant theory in the channels of communications focuses on hives. Ant colonies, for example, provide a unique look at efficiency. Each ant disperses from the colony to find food. As each ant searches, they leave a tiny trace of their unique pheromone behind. The ant that finds food first will inevitably return the fastest thus doubling its trace of pheromone by the sheer fact that the ant will follow the exact same path to and fro. As the pheromone trail gets stronger, ants on parallel paths will divert to this path increasing the pheromone scent even more allowing ants slightly further away to fall in line. This is why you see long lines of ants trailing off from a colony. They are merely following their programming and diverting to the stronger path.
As humans, we have the ability to think for ourselves. We can reject the path followed by other humans. We can even do so intentionally. We can do it just because we want to be different or we want to be a jerk. Maybe we’re jealous of them or maybe we just don’t like those people and want to show them a different way. I say this merely because I want to point out that it is in no way my intention to merely buck trends or “troll” as they say. We here at Last Rites strive for honesty and accurate, well-thought out opinions on musical endeavors. So, it’s neither a comfortable position nor does it excite me to be the ant that steps out of line. To quote Common, “everybody gotta eat, right y’all ?” With that said, while the vast majority of writers, journalists, reviewers, etc. kneel on the carpet taking Bell Witch’s cum in their hair and eyes, I must stand up and tell it the way I see (or hear) it.
The idea of releasing a single track is inherently gimmicky. Any album, when properly composed, should be united whether the tracks have numbers and are easily navigated or not. Some masterful composers, Gorguts for example, or even Brian Eno, have what it takes to release a single track album. Bell Witch are, unfortunately but not unsurprisingly, not Gorguts (or Eno for that matter). The endless droning, combined with multiple failures to develop any shining moments, ultimately plague the overall composition. In the end it sounds more like a rehearsal session in which the members involved hope to find some compositional foundations after listening to their recorded jam session. But hey, it has really cool artwork (even if the reaper’s hands are somehow on the outside of the mirror when he’s supposedly escaping from inside it).