BELL WITCH and AERIAL RUIN’s hauntingly gorgeous collaborative album, Stygian Bough Volume I is available today on Profound Lore Records. On Stygian Bough Volume I, renowned doom duo BELL WITCH (Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman) fully integrate themselves with dark folk elegist, AERIAL RUIN (Erik Moggridge) for a collection of five transcendent songs that defy categorization.
Both parties set down for a round table discussion, track by track, to dive further into the album’s concepts, themes, production and more. Read the in-depth rundown via Stereogum here.
Stygian Bough Volume I was recorded and mixed by Randall Dunn. To purchase or stream, go here. Stay tuned for tour updates here.
Early acclaim for Stygian Bough Volume I:
“A near-perfect crossover of bleak funeral sludge and gothic loner-folk” – METAL HAMMER
“The Bastard Wind” is a real epic, with rises and falls and peaks and valleys. It starts as a soft, ritualistic hymn. From there, it builds and builds into a swirling, elemental cacophony. It’s got multiple movements, but the whole thing hangs together. Like the best epics, it sweeps you away to another place. At times, it’s absolutely beautiful.” STEREOGUM
“Stygian Bough Volume I isn’t metal…it’s a slowcore/folk album with the occasional foray into doom. It has its heavy moments, but it’s overall no more metal than, say, Mount Eerie’s Ocean Roar.” BROOKLYN VEGAN
“…a beautiful bummer team-up” NPR
“a master class in slow-burning buildup, ebb-and-flow dynamics and cataclysmic catharsis” REVOLVER
“deafeningly melancholic, crumbling every headstone in the cemetery” AV CLUB
“doom metal album of the year” BLABBERMOUTH
“this takes the listener on a journey through vast expanses of music” DECIBEL
“purvey a doomy slowcore overcast with a meditative sadness” CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND
“simply crushing in its emotional and sonic weight” NO CLEAN SINGING
“provides pensive tone that immediately draws the listener in” MXDWN
“it’s exactly the epic, haunting funeral doom you’d expect given the lineup” METAL INJECTION
“some world-shifting stuff” INVISIBLE ORANGES
More about the collaboration
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 – track list:
1. The Bastard Wind
2. Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)
3. Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)
5. The Unbodied Air