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Bell Witch - Future Shadows Pt. 1: The Clandestine Gate (Profound Lore)

2 June 2023

There’s excess, and then there’s Bell Witch. Six years on from the masterful two-disk, one-song album Mirror Reaper, the duo returns with The Clandestine Gate. While it, too, is a near-ninety minute single song LP, it’s the first in a trilogy of albums entitled Future Shadows – it’s as if bassist Dylan Diamond and drummer Jesse Shriebman looked at their past accomplishments and said, “You know what? Hold my beer.” (It’s unknown if the other two albums will be one-song opuses, but even money says they will be.) Interestingly, “The Clandestine Gate” is less overpowering than the thickly arranged “Mirror Reaper” – there’s more air here, more painterly textures. Much of the bass comes from synth or organ washes, over which Diamond lets his upper register riffs flow more like lava than boiling oil. The vocals lean toward moans and croons – even harmonies! – more often than death growls. Many passages even sound more like ambient music than drone metal. None of that’s to say the pair’s signature pound and roar don’t make appearance – of course they do. But The Clandestine Gate indicates an evolution in Bell Witch’s aesthetic – one that makes the next two volumes of Future Shadows something(s) to anticipate.