Bell Witch
Four Phantoms


4.5
superb

Review

by Arche USER (82 Reviews)
May 12th, 2015 | 118 replies


Release Date: 04/28/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The unrivalled power of the elements is told in this utterly joyless yet captivating doom release from Seattle-based duo Bell Witch

There's still something undeniably terrifying about dying at the hands of the elements - be it the crushing vastness of the ocean or the merciless destructiveness of fire, the most primal part of our brains is still programmed to fear them regardless of our dispositions or locations. In their second full length effort, Seattle-based funeral doom duo Bell Witch address this most instinctive part of our being with 4 utterly joyless yet engrossing tracks that further push them forward as one of the best acts in the genre of recent times.

Opener 'Suffocation, A Burial' is a good, albeit incomplete, indicator of the intensity that this album harbours throughout. About a minute in, the track explodes into what feels like a universal funerary dirge, utilising the lower registers of the bass guitar to create a cavernous, seemingly limitless soundscape where nothing but the blackness of the world exists. Vocals reminiscent of death moans not so much puncture through but complement this aforementioned horror-like setting, while a drawn out riff seems to signal the end of the world with grim acceptance. Indeed, for the first 10 minutes the only interludes from this are softened passages stripped from percussion, which serve to not only provide a break from the aforementioned low barrage but also to further instill a sense of loneliness. This approach is used throughout, but is performed so that nothing feels longer than it needs to be before the next change comes in, which can be anything from a change in vocal style to a subtle rhythmic difference; hence, rather than luring the listener into a trance-like state, it keeps them awake and aware of the slowly changing atmosphere created.

Whilst 'Suffocation, A Burial' takes a more traditional (but agonisingly well done) angle within the funeral doom genre, what makes 'Four Phantoms' so strong as a whole is the refusal to let up the intensity whilst also being able to show a beautiful, literative side. Third track 'Suffocation, A Drowning' is possibly the best example of this; eschewing most of the growled vocals in favour of a clean, slightly folky style allows for the poeticism of the lyrics to come through, which would sound as natural in an English Romantic novel as they do here. Where the two bookend tracks start and finish proceedings by putting the fear of God into the listener, it is the two middle tracks which are arguably the pivotal moments across the album's length, as the greater emphasis on vocal and musical variety creates what feels like breathing space before the final, suffocating steamroller that is 'Judgement, In Air' destroys what remains.

Stretching to 66 minutes over four tracks means that this requires a dedicated listen, and rightly so. If you allow it, this album envelops and slowly suppresses any light that it cruelly leaks in to offer false hope. It's bleak, heavy, monstrous and terrifying, yet also beautiful, tasteful and poetic. Funeral doom at it's finest.



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user ratings (126)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Archelirion
May 12th 2015


5569 Comments


2015 AOTY so far for me bar none. Stream to be found https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/four-phantoms - any corrections, suggestions or comments always welcome :]

emester
May 12th 2015


8249 Comments


Sweet review. Dug Longing so I gotta hear this. Album arts pretty cool too

Archelirion
May 12th 2015


5569 Comments


Yeah, the album art's pretty awesome. I've got the disc in delivery at the moment but I sent it home instead of my university halls, so it's gonna be nearly 2 weeks before I can look at it physically :[ And thanks!

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2015


11224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Very good write up, pos.



I've been jamming this one lately and I agree with a large portion of what you've written, even though I don't love it as much as you probably because funeral doom isn't exactly my thing.

Digging: Ice Sword - Dragon Magic

Archelirion
May 12th 2015


5569 Comments


Thanks! To be honest, this is the first funeral doom album in a while I've been this enamoured with - as far as genres go, funeral doom has a very fine line between very good and dull I find.

emester
May 12th 2015


8249 Comments


Also love the inclusion of Samothrace in the recs section. That band crushes.

Also if you have't, check out Moss. Those guys are another pretty awesome funeral doom band

DoctorDoom
May 12th 2015


2987 Comments


Been waiting for this one. Great review.

Archelirion
May 12th 2015


5569 Comments


Thanks man :]
@emester I'll give them a bash, haven't heard of them before.

PappyMason
May 12th 2015


5702 Comments


Very nice review, great write-up. Pos'.

This is a really minor correction but even though you've written that this is a doom release in the summary, the first paragraph sees you write 'that further push them forward as one of the best acts in the genre of recent times' without any mention of a genre in that paragraph.

Archelirion
May 12th 2015


5569 Comments


Thanks =) Good spot, I think I did have the genre in my introduction at one point but removed the sentence it was in, but forgot to change the rest of the paragraph accordingly. I'll get on changing that, thanks again.

PappyMason
May 12th 2015


5702 Comments


No worries, I'll be sure to give this a listen. The mid-section sounds pretty glorious from the review.

Gobbles308
May 25th 2015


21 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is amazing. Just saw them live not too long ago and they were incredible. My AOTY so far.

Archelirion
May 27th 2015


5569 Comments


You saw them live? So jealous right now, bet that was suffocating.

oltnabrick
June 1st 2015


36031 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hopefully seeing them next weekend

Digging: Hank and Slim - The World Turned Gingham

Hawks
June 3rd 2015


59877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Last album ruled, gonna jam this in a minute. m/

Digging: Convulsing - Grievous

PortalofPerfection
June 9th 2015


1991 Comments


This is pretty sweet. I need more good doom in my life.

Hawks
June 9th 2015


59877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still gotta hear this, but I gotta be in the right mood to sit down and listen to the whole thing.

Archelirion
June 9th 2015


5569 Comments


@Portal: Check out a load of emester's lists, some ridiculously good stuff to be found in those. The man has seriously good taste :3
@Hawks: Yep, this has to be a one listen thing pretty much. It's worth it when you get round to it though.

BigPleb
August 12th 2015


54509 Comments


This shit is dense as hell yo.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
August 16th 2015


39663 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is boring as fuck i bet snoxall thinks its amazing



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