Wrekmeister Harmonies, Bell Witch, Horizon of Darkness | Empty Bottle | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Wrekmeister Harmonies, Bell Witch, Horizon of Darkness Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Thu., Dec. 17, 9 p.m. 2015

Seattle funeral-doom duo Bell Witch play metal with a metabolism so slow it feels like the breathing of a great beast that sleeps under a mountain of rock—or the breathing of the mountain itself, an ancient thing whose life moves at a pace we can’t perceive. This year’s Four Phantoms (Profound Lore) adorns its dilated, mournful melodies with patient, bell-like tolling and implacably cycling arpeggiated patterns, draping almost everything in buzzing, gently undulating bass drones that feel as edgeless and eternal as the low flat clouds on the hundredth day without sun. The drums (played by Adrian Guerra, who’s since been replaced by Jesse Shreibman) rarely approximate anything you could call a “beat”—they’re usually just a disconnected series of concussions and clashes. Bassist and singer Dylan Desmond gets help with vocals from his duo partner, and they move among a wide variety of timbres—growls, shrieks, grating rasps, even ripe clusters of monklike harmonies, mostly in long syllables that are hard to resolve into words. Sometimes the music consists of nothing but delicate, almost crystalline guitar, and sometimes it erupts into full-band impacts so dense that they seem to make space-time shimmer a little. But it always feels governed by a clock ticking so slowly that human lives blink in and out of existence like mayflies. If you’re the sort of person who takes comfort in your utter insignificance in the vastness of the universe, you may also find this bleakly beautiful, barely human music strangely consoling.

Philip Montoro

Price: $10

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