Bell Witch – Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate

Six years after their last full-length Mirror Reaper return Bell Witch, one of the main realities of US funeral doom. In fact, the duo led from the outset by Dylan Desmond, accompanied at the beginning of his adventure by Adrian Guerra, tragically deceased in 2016, and today by Jesse Shreibman, continues with their entirely personal proposal, devoid of any semblance of commercial calculation. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that after two albums that lasted well over an hour, such as Longing and Four Phantoms, the previous Mirror Reaper consisted of a single track that exceeded eighty minutes, and the same happens with this new Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate, first part of a trilogy that, in my humble opinion surpasses the already remarkable works such as those mentioned above. It is an album that is to all intents and purposes the quintessence of funeral doom: notes and poignant, admirably created by Desmond, using as usual the bass instead of the guitar, restore a sense of inescapable and total abandon, enveloping the listener in the coils of a lacerating sound, but with tones that are not entirely desperate. The experience gained in 2020 with Erik Moggridge’s Aerial Ruin, on the EP Stygian Bough: Volume I, is probably no stranger to this kind of goal, even though the previous album already featured the conspicuous use of the organ and a certain tendency to the rarefaction of the sound, which often comes close to ambient. The use of vocals itself contributes to the work’s distinctiveness, with the intertwining of Desmond and Shreibman’s uvulas evoking a monastic feeling, with the growl only manifesting itself substantially in the final part of the long monotrack, before it slowly fades into the sparse bass notes. More or less coinciding with the reaching of the hour’s duration, unimaginable emotional peaks are reached, with an instrument often reduced to the role of mere accompaniment which, in Desmond’s hands becomes the ideal vehicle to induce the listener to tears. Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate is destined to become one of the milestones in the sub-genre and will long be remembered for its poignant beauty that never fails at any moment, because even in the apparently interlocutory moments the sound actually penetrates and shakes the listener’s psyche in depth, succeeding in rendering the sense of unavoidability that is a direct consequence of the life/death cycle in the most effective way. Bell Witch offer a work that is difficult to imitate, confirming themselves as one of the most significant realities among those that have emerged in the funeral scene after 2010, thanks to a musician with a unique compositional sensitivity like Dylan Desmond.
Nothing’s bigger than life. All vastnesses — expanding space, infinite time — crouch inside of consciousness. On a historical scale, to say nothing of a cosmic one, the individual human life vanishes, and yet it’s the only aperture any of us get into reality. It’s barely there, and it’s all there is.

2023 – Profound Lore Records