Tuesday, 11 August 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, "Stygian Bough Volume 1"

 By: Peter Morsellino

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/06/2020
Label: Profound Lore Records

“Stygian Bough Volume 1” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. The Bastard Wind
2. Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)
3. Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)
4. Prelude
5. The Unbodied Air

The Review:

Hauntingly beautiful and dripping with emotion, Bell Witch joins force with Aerial Ruin to deliver a piece of art that is worth many times the sum of its parts.  With “Stygian Bough Volume 1”, we are greeted with an incredibly mature and strikingly artistic take on the doom genre. 

The album casts its spell upon listeners with a weight of immense intimacy, creating a deeply personal connection throughout its hour plus run time.  The emotional toll of this album cannot be understated. It moves slowly and sorrowfully and it inserts the solemn voices directly into the listener's soul.

Melancholic melodies reign supreme here, with powerful funerary passages dotting the release from time to time. Acoustic guitars and soulful vocal passages form the backbone of the album. It has very much of a Jose Gonzalez vibe at times, which is something I never thought I'd say on this blog, but it fits in perfectly. Moments of lightness should not be mistaken for levity here, as the emotional toll of these songs proves to be, at very least, as heavy as anything out on shelves right now.

With passages reaching well into the ten plus minutes marks (and several reaching just about twenty,) this one is a long haul for sure. And yet, the album feels woefully incomplete when consumed in bits and pieces.  You might be there a while, but I would highly recommend taking this one in in one sitting. This is an album that needs to be absorbed whole. It's an experience. A journey. Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin share something deeply personal and profound with listeners here, and it is something that needs to be respected.

The mixing of gentle elements into doom works is nothing new, but here on “Stygian Bough Volume 1”, we are presented with a master class on the matter. This is a game changer for the genre, just wait and see. A stand out album for me this year, and will most certainly be making my list.  Give it a go, you won't regret it.

“Stygian Bough Volume 1” is available HERE

Band info: Bell Witch || Aerial Ruin