BELL WITCH  Demo 2011  12"   (The Flenser)   19.99

     The early throes of one of the best doom metal bands around right now. Right on the hells of their terrific new album Four Phantoms comes this vinyl reissue of the Seattle band's 2011 demo, on black vinyl with a printed inner sleeve, featuring a slightly revised layout and a more durable jacket than the previous version that came out from the German label Psychic Assault. Featuring four tracks that sprawl out for more than a half-hour of atmospheric, achingly beautiful heaviness, the band's demo has some material that would end up getting reworked for their first album Longing ("Beneath The Mask" and "I Wait"). But then there's also the two tracks that only appeared here, "Mayknow" and ""The Moment", which makes this pretty desirable for those of us infatuated with the duo's brand of crushing, melancholic doom.

     Even as far back as this demo, these guys were utilizing their spare palette of drums, bass guitar and vocals to utterly massive effect; on the instrumental "Mask", the mournful, low-end notes slowly drift around the samples from Corman's Masque Of The Red Death, opening the demo with its dreary, almost Codeine-like slowcore that leads straight into the thunderous "I Wait". These early versions are just a little more stripped down than the album versions, slightly grittier and more molten in their wall-rattling delivery, but just as suffocating heavy. The exclusive b-side songs, on the other hand, are particularly torturous. "Mayknow" is a crawling, abject dirge with some of the most terrifying vocals I've heard from Bell Witch, but will also spit out some wonderfully moody, almost bluesy guitar leads over that skull-flattening doom, and the vocals rising in a sorrowful threnody, almost choral-like as they echo across the elegiac melody that takes over the last half of the song; when they slip from that into the short instrumental closer "The Moment", it's like a clearing of thunderheads, the delicate, almost folky bass melody drifting over the ruined and blasted terrain.

     Issued in a limited run of six hundred copies.