Renowned doom duo BELL WITCH (Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman) fully integrate themselves with dark folk elegist, AERIAL RUIN (Erik Moggridge) on their collaborative new album, Stygian Bough Volume I. Genuine collaborations are rare yet these two found a way to become one, resulting in a hauntingly beautiful collection of five transcendent songs that defy categorization. Today they’ve revealed the album’s emotional opener The Bastard Wind which debuted via Revolver who call it, “mournful and majestic, a master class in slow-burning buildup, ebb-and-flow dynamics and cataclysmic catharsis.”
Stygian Bough Volume I is available to pre-order now.
Of The Bastard Wind, Moggridgeexplains, “I originally thought that these parts might make up an entire song but Dylan wanted to break up the more melodic ear candy material with tension building parts and came up with all the riffs in the songs middle with this in mind. The idea being the listener would be expecting the melodic stuff to continue but instead have to wade through all these edgy riffs first making the payoff bigger at the end. We ended up with a 10 minute journey into heavier and heavier material. Jesse did a great job building up the tempos that give that part this dynamic arch and gets almost mid-tempo before crashing down again. His death metal vocals in that section really bring that part home too.”
Read more at Revolver.
While Moggridge has been a part of BELL WITCH‘s sonic fingerprint on all their prior records, perhaps most notably for his vocals on their previous acclaimed full-length, Mirror Reaper, he’s now part of the very fabric that make up the striking and visceral songs that comprise Stygian Bough Volume I.
The addition of guitar to the bass and drum-only dynamic came naturally as the threesome discussed potential models for their joint effort. Ulver’s unorthodox folk album Kveldssanger came up as did Candlemass’ mile marker Nightfall. But the real fuel to Stygian Bough Volume I was the BELL WITCH track, Rows (of Endless Waves), which was not only Moggridge’s first appearance with BELL WITCH but also a track that has deeply resonated with Desmond over the years. With the approach in place, BELL WITCH and AERIAL RUIN collectively wrote desolate yet mystical songs, making up an album of deep, dark undertows and careful respite.
The themes explored by BELL WITCH and AERIAL RUIN were independently tackled from different angles but were mainly from similar spaces. Whereas BELL WITCH plumbed the depths of purgatory—a place of atonement between life and death—across three full-lengths, Moggridge’s AERIAL RUIN have centered on the loss of the self and the spiritual places the vacancy ultimately leads to. For Stygian Bough Volume I, BELL WITCH and AERIAL RUIN topics of choice intersect and complement, continuing in spirit but with a broader vantage point where Rows (of Endless Waves) left off.
Stygian Bough Volume I was recorded and mixed by Randall Dunn at Avast Recording Co. in Seattle. BELL WITCH and AERIAL RUIN then took the full-length to mastering ace Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service in Chicago. The result is a full-length of profound lows and delicate highs – fitting for BELL WITCH and Aerial Ruin‘s quiet/introspective and heavy/loud dynamic. As for the triumvirate’s next steps, they plan on touring in support of Stygian Bough Volume I when it’s safe to do so. Stay tuned for tour updates.
Stygian Bough Volume I – track list:
1. The Bastard Wind
2. Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)
3. Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)
5. The Unbodied Air