PICK OF THE WEEK: Deathbell put metaphysical, spiritual forces in focus on ‘A Nocturnal Crossing’

We speak often about music that is able to take you places in your mind and help you have an experience that goes beyond simply putting on a record and absorbing the music. It tends to mean a little more and stick to you harder when the music gives you something extra, and if that can flow into planes beyond this realm, then it’s even better as long as that’s something you can manage.

French psyche doom force Deathbell is one of those bands not just interested in putting their music on record; they also want to transport you and get inside your spirit. Their powerful second record “A Nocturnal Crossing” creates a tie between the life and death, delving into metaphysical forces and spiritual introspection that gives the listener a taste of something they perhaps haven’t had before. The band—vocalist/keyboard player Lauren Gaynor, guitarist/keys player Bastien Commenlongue, guitarist Fredrik Bolzann, bassist Valentin Troï, drummer Robin Draye—pushes out smoky, emotional doom that burns and takes its time setting up ambiance, pulling right into the middle of their hypnosis.

“The Stronghold and the Archer” is a stunning opener, working into psychedelic smoke as Gaynor’s powerful vocals first rear their head. The guitars are heavy and spacious while heat is generated and spat generously, and then the vocals reopen and surge, heavier punches land, and the final moments bleed out in color. “Devoured on the Peak” unleashes a bluesy sheen with Gaynor’s vocals super powering everything, and the guitars blurring and flexing. The leads heat up as the fuzz contingent multiplies, the song kicks back pretty hard, and a strong, emotional flood washes away the flames. “The Ladder” bleeds in with guitars emerging and synth billowing, feeling gothy and spooky. Things get grittier even as the melodies increase, the synth glistens, and the singing gets deeply sultry, sending jolts down your spine. The playing mesmerizes heavily, slow-moving heat scorches, and a final stomp runs through and leaves the paths they created scorched.

“Silent She Comes” starts with guitars drizzling and organs haunting, Gaynor’s vocals kicking in and adding bruising. The song keeps picking up tension as it goes, the humidity thickens, and Gaynor howls about “your demon eyes” as the track ends in sweltering stickiness. “Shifting Sands” slowly lands and takes a calculated approach, the vocals absolutely killing. The guitars move into the psyche void, delicately melting as Gaynor wails, “You don’t know!” The organs sprawl as the guitars stretch, and the singing again pumps juices, sprawling in the sand. The title track closes the album with eerie keys bubbling and doom waters blackening, Gaynor absolutely going off. Heartfelt magic buzzes in your chest as Gaynor calls, “Out of the dark, into the light,” the guitars generating lava. The fires build as your nerves are on end, everything catapulting off into a cloud of smoke.

“A Nocturnal Crossing” is a record that truly feels like it is branching the cavern separating the living and the dead, and the music here equally is scathing and psychedelically rich. Deathbell take a pretty big leap from their strong debut to this second record, and they feel like they’re figuring things out, really establishing their metallic spirit. This is an album that demands your full participation, body and spirit, and it will reward you over and over for that commitment.      

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DeathbellDoom/

To buy the album, go here: https://svartrecords.com/product/deathbell-a-nocturnal-crossing-album/

For more on the label, go here: https://svartrecords.com/