Bell Witch

Plan B, Malmö - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

I was introduced to Bell Witch back in 2011, when they still only had their demo out. Even though the heavier isles of the doom store are places I rarely visit, the combination of the sweet melancholic sound and dialogue taken from the classic Roger Corman film The Masque Of The Red Death won me over instantly. Listening further to the four-track demo only heightened my like for the band, and when I saw them live for the first time back in 2013, my fandom was permanently cemented in place.

With that in mind, it wasn’t easy for me to make the decision to skip their concert in Copenhagen here in 2018, on their, to my knowledge, third visit. It had to be done, due to other obligations, but the thing that made it acceptable, was that they were playing in Mamlö only a few days later, on my birthday no less!
So, here we found ourselves, in a dark basement with a low ceiling, and a small, low stage, waiting for the very band that had gripped me so, and managed to hold on. Since our last visit, several things had been going on with the band, most notably so the release of their third full-length album, Mirror Reaper (or should we call it a single? it only contains one song after all), and the sad passing of drummer/vocalist/co-founder Adrian Guerra. Thankfully, despite the loss, bassist/vocalist/co-founder Dylan Desmond decided to keep the band going, teaming up with Jesse Schreibman, whom he had previously played alongside in Wrekmeister Harmonies.

Contrary to when Mönarch had occupied it earlier with their five members, the small stage didn’t feel as crowded and cluttered now that there were only persons on it.
Bell Witch started out with skipping any form of introduction, simply by Desmond beginning to play a clean melody on his six-string bass, and Schreibman laying slumped over the drums as if sleeping. The song was the aforementioned Mirror Reaper, and as it would turn out, this was all the band would play tonight. Before you go ahead and think that, hey, that’s a short gig, you would do well in remembering that Mirror Reaper is nigh on one and a half hour long. Still a bit short for a headlining gig perhaps, but one can’t fail to see the clean beauty of it.
Given that Bell Witch only played one song, there was obviously no in-between songs chit chat to be found here, neither did any of the musicians say anything prior to nor after the gig - they came in, said what they had to say through music, and left. The whole atmosphere was hypnotic, Schreibman did a fine job in filling Guerra’s shoes (although his vocals were a bit low in the mix), and Desmond’s special tapping way of playing was as mesmerizing as I remembered it from the first time I saw the band.

The crowd had both grown and moved a lot closer to the stage, now making the room feel crowded instead of the stage. The style of music isn’t one to inspire much physical activity from the audience of course, but there was a clear feeling of everyone being much more actively listening and partaking in the show - it was clear to see which band was the pull here.
Apart from that, there really isn’t much to say about the goings on during the concert, except for that awesome feeling that the wholeness of the situation inspired - it was strong enough to last beyond the concert even. You see, after the show was done, the last note had rung out, and the band left the stage, there was still a moment of stillness in the crowd, while everyone collectively let sink in what had just transpired, before finally erupting in a chaos of cheering and applauding. There was no bow, no epilogue, just this, and this was enough to hold up everything. This was entirely as good as I had hoped and predicted, and worth every second of the journey.

Setlist:

Mirror Reaper

Bell Witch

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