José’s Roadburn Band of the Week: Bell Witch

By on 20 February 2015


With less than two months to go until the mighty Roadburn Festival throws open its doors once again, our very own José Carlos Santos casts an eye over the (as ever) impeccable lineup and points you in the direction of some of the highlights. Let’s kick things off this week with gloriously gloomy duo Bell Witch

From: Seattle, Washington
Who: Dylan Desmond (bass/vocals), Adrian Guerra (drums/vocals)

Rejoice, for your weekly Roadburn guide is back! No longer shall you roam the endless halls of the 013 come Tilburg’s delightful month of April, peeking shyly at the rooms with fear of committing yourself to any show, cursing Terrorizer for not having suggested awesome bands to look out for in the weeks prior to the grand event.

What better place to start, then, than a band that looks like it could actually use some redirecting of folk to the place where they’ll be emitting their unholy noise from? When discussing with a fellow Terrorizer colleague who shall remain unnamed (it was Kez) the choice of bands to cover, our esteemed reviews editor, ever the holder of impeccable taste, suggested “we should definitely give Bell Witch some love as they’re amazing but hardly anyone seems to know about them”, which is sadly true.

Granted, they haven’t been the most active of bands, nor do they play the most universally attractive of musics, but come on. This is Terrorizer and this is Roadburn, you people should be all over this by now. Not only are they a duo, and we all know duos are the new power trios in terms of cool line-ups (we don’t have to list all the kickass duos out for you again, do we?), but on the strength of their tenebrous 2012 debut, ‘Longing’, alone, everyone should have flocked to them. Not only was it out on the über-kvlt Profound Lore, one of the few labels to maintain an unmistakable seal of quality, but it was also not your typical plodding-along doomy excursion either.

Listening to the whole 67 horrid minutes of the thing is an experience which will leave you constantly in a state of anxiety, even when you’ve fully digested the album and know what to expect, such is the thick aura of foreboding misery and bitterness that envelops the songs. I’ve never been buried alive (yet?), but I’d imagine it’s a similar feeling of dreadful waiting for something that never comes, as the lyrics themselves to ‘I Wait’ illustrate: “breathlessly / still waiting / restlessly / still waiting”. As a pure statement in anguish through a mixture of extreme doom, harsh drone and aggressive sludge, it takes some beating, and come April, we will already have its long-awaited follow-up to play with. Once again on Profound Lore, ‘Four Phantoms’ will hopefully take all I’ve just said about its predecessor and amplify it tenfold.

Roadburn also has a knack for inspiring the absolute best (including, for instance, Samothrace, who Dylan used to play with) from this sort of band. They’re also playing on Thursday, otherwise known as The Day Everything Great Will Play, so we’ll get Thou, Bongripper, Eyehategod and Primitive Man, among many others, to go with the ample, abject misery supplied by Bell Witch on that day. Tilburg, hide your razors.

Curiously useless fact about Bell Witch: There was another band called Bell Witch, in the south of Portugal, who released two demos in the late ’90s, before disappearing into the ether where bands that only sort of existed go, to be remembered only for useless references.

WORDS: José Carlos Santos

Bell Witch play on Thursday, April 9th, at the Het Patronaat. Roadburn Festival 2015 will run for four days from Thursday, April 9 to Sunday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Get your tickets HERE

‘Four Phantoms’ is scheduled for release in late April on Profound Lore

You can find Bell Witch and Roadburn on Facebook

About Kez Whelan

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