Bell Witch + Pantheist
@ The Dome, Tufnell Park
Friday, 30th November 2018
Review & Photography By: Ryan Whitwell / Shotison
A sold out seated gig, still lighting, candles, Lawrence English “A Colour for Autumn” on the PA (and, I think, a track from Beyond Skyrim) all combined to create a weird mix of anticipation and relaxation within me. I opted for a seat towards stage right, in front of one of The Dome’ s rather large stacks. “Maximum impact!” I thought to myself. I have enjoyed Bell Witch’s music for a while but I really like their latest album, Mirror Reaper, and they would be playing it in full tonight. But before them, there was support from Pantheist.
The calm was shattered by the huge bass drum sound, ripping into the Tufnell Park Dome with great intent. The bass too was aggressively making its way through the crowd, and my rib cage was holding up pretty well considering my proximity to the stack beside the stage. The vocals are a mix of dark growls and deep chanting, although the bass enveloped much of them so it was quite hard to distinguish the exact lyrics, but it all added to the imposing doom.
There were a few lighter sections, with lead guitar taking hold delivering the higher notes. It offered a nice juxtaposition and some relief from the heaviness of the majority of the set.
Another phase of ambient music bridged the gap between the two bands, and anticipation seemed to be growing. The brief sound check was deafening enough.
And then it began. Those few solitary notes from the 6 string bass sent shivers down my spine. If you haven’t heard Mirror Reaper (I highly recommend you do so), after a few listens that particular intro really does whet the appetite because you know the journey that is about to begin.
The huge, rib cracking thumps of the bass drum followed shortly after, and now we all realised just how much power the amps were putting out! Vocals were on point too, with the two members offering two different styles of doom vocals emerging from the dimly lit stage.
If you’ve listened to Mirror Reaper (again, highly recommended), you’ll know that around the start of the final third a new voice emerges after a moment’s rest. That is the voice of a third man, who graced the stage to close the set with such a gentile tone of voice that it was the polar opposite of the crushingly dark tones that preceded it.
That final third, or at least the start of it, is a key moment in the album for me. A gentleman behind me couldn’t quite contain himself as I heard him mutter to himself, “Ooh, here we go”.
Being seated, the crowd were not jumping or chanting or singing along, but I did have a quick look to see people mimicking drum patterns and more than a few people banging their heads during the moments that work best with that sort of thing. Of course, they had most likely listened to the album a lot (which I really can’t recommend enough), and of course, there was a standing ovation at the end. It was a brilliant performance, and the live experience made the album sound fantastic through those large bass heavy amps.