PICK OF THE WEEK: Eight Bells get up from ashes, make triumphant statement with ‘Legacy of Ruin’

Photo by Cody Keto

There are only so many obstacles that can be placed in front of someone before they start to wonder if the venture is even worth pursuing. While everyone faces struggle in their lives, sometimes the circumstances just get to be too heavy, and it’s understandable when that ends projects in their tracks. But there are some who cannot be deterred, even when the water is up to the neck.

The story of Eight Bells has not always been a smooth one, despite the band making some of the most compelling music in all of metal’s terrain the last decade. But a leg injury guitarist/vocalist Melynda Jackson sustained on their tour with Voivod a few years back was a big physical setback, and then the dissolution of the lineup that recorded their last record “Landless” seemed to be another massive blow. But Jackson didn’t give in. She kept searching for the right parts that she found in bassist/vocalist Matt Solis (Cormorant, Ursa) and drummer Brian Burke (No Shores, Cave Dweller), and that unit produced “Legacy of Ruin,” the band’s excellent second full-length. The progressive ambitions and melding of all types of rupturing sounds from the trio is enthralling and pummeling, and the vocals remain vital and entrancing, this time mixing gender voices and adding a different element to the mix.

“Destroyer” starts with noises swelling and Jackson and Solis merging their voices for haunting harmonies. “I am death, destruction, I am strife and struggle, I am suffering, helpless, I am hopeless, careless,” the anger and frustration flooding through. Jackson’s shrieks rip, feeling cathartic as the playing chugs and sprawls, and then calm dawns as the voices float. The guitars go off as the bass jolts, making the final moments compelling and powerful. “The Well” is the longest track, running 11:10 and starting in eerie waters, the harmonized voices chilling with guest vocalist Melynda Marie Amann entering the fray. “Finding no redemption, sentenced, say a prayer to no one, muted,” Jackson calls, haunting your blood as the power really kicks in. The playing combusts and mauls, dripping in psychedelic power, even calming for a stretch as Jackson mournfully wonders, “Will you be there when I die?” The doomy hammers drop anew, haunting and destroying, Jackson calling out, “Our well runs dry, Lord hear our cry.” “Torpid Dreamer” is punchy and aggressive as it opens its gates, a haze hanging over, Jackson and Solis blending seamlessly. Moody leads stretch as the leads circle, trudging power chugs, and everything ends in mesmerizing storming.

“Nadir” dawns amid a heavy mist, setting the stage for the heaviness to crumble and adds even more pressure. “I am sure there’s no heaven, to adore is my weapon, right now is all we have,” amplifies the emotion that bleeds from every pore. The melodies take off, the intensity spikes, and everything lathers and floods toward “The Crone.” That track moves in as the singing drips like water droplets from an icicle, and then sunburnt, wondrous playing envelops you, leading into vicious shrieks and growls. “Witch! Crone! Bitch! Diviner!” is howled as the fury rages like lava from the earth, Jackson vowing, “Retribution, fucking vengeance, I’ll return,” as the last blasts melt away. “Premonition” is the 9:28-long closer that starts hypnotically and immersive, leaning into heavy stabs and violent shrieks, disrupting any sense of sanity. “Precious gift, nothing left, husk of an empire, dormant,” rattles cages as the guitars lather and the melodies build. The moodiness increases in the final stretch, the darkness folds, and the playing drubs, ending in lush acoustics licking the final embers of a city burning down.

This is a triumphant return for Eight Bells and Jackson especially, coming back from a gruesome injury and watching her band fall apart around her, only to find the right pieces and deliver “Legacy of Ruin.” This feels like a band reborn, bubbling back up from the ashes to prove their might and resolve, combining forces from other sources to create a greater whole. This is a tremendous statement, one of the band’s strongest to date, and no one ever should doubt Eight Bells and the weaponry they possess.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://lnk.spkr.media/eightbells-legacy

For more on the label, go here: https://en.prophecy.de/

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