Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin – Stygian Bough Volume 1 (Review)

Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin - Stygian Bough Volume 1Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin are both artists from the US, and they have teamed up to bring us 64 minutes of mournful doom. Although no strangers to working together, this is their first fully fledged collaboration.

This is a darkly beautiful work, constructed from melancholic moods and desolate soundscapes. The music moves between heavy and soft, with shading and texture effortlessly used throughout. The lonesome melodies are haunting and highly emotive, wrapped around a heaviness that seems to drag you down, physically and mentally, into the darkness.

The tracks unfold at glacial paces, gradually eroding the listener’s ability to do anything but lose themselves in the unfolding waves of desolation and grief. When listening to this album it’s very easy to just get wrapped up in it. All of the songwriting and the performances are strong, and it’s easily apparent that the artists have a natural rapport with each other.

The clean vocals drip with sorrow and loss. The singer’s voice is highly expressive and seems to convey a lot with minimal effort. Although only appearing on very rarely, this is contrasted nicely with the malignant deep growls that are occasionally unleashed from some hidden realm and let loose to terrify and torment.

All of the tracks are very strong, but the best is saved for last. After the reflective nature of Prelude, the closing song The Unbodied Air is probably my favourite. Just as atmospheric and affecting as the rest of the material, it’s raised above its peers on the album due to the heavier sections, which sound more ominous and foreboding than anything else here.

The mostly-lengthy songs on this album are incredibly absorbing examples of highly compelling expressive doom metal. I really can’t recommend this highly enough for anyone who has a taste for the slower, darker side of extreme metal.

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