Billy Anderson may as well be renamed King Midas, as it seems that any record he has any dealings with turns out to be solid gold – ‘Landless’ by Portland trio, Eight Bells, is no absolutely no exception to this rule. The three piece formed in 2011, following the disbanding of SubArachnoid Space; in need of another band, guitarist Melynda Jackson got together with bassist Haley Westeiner and drummer Christopher Van Huffel to release ‘Isosceles’, then debut ‘The Captain’s Daughter’ two years later. 2016 sees the release of sophomore effort ‘Landless’ with Rae Amitay now wielding the sticks and Van Huffel relegated to helping out with additional percussion.
‘Landless’ is a genuine tour de force of ethereal progressiveness and harmonies, layering the atmosphere on heavy. Listening to this record will conjure similarities to the likes of Lotus Thief, SubRosa, Ides of Gemini and Uzala, straddling that dividing line between extreme heaviness and shimmering beauty. Songs burst forth with furious blastbeats and soaring riffs, before floating towards utter tranquillity with almost angelic sounding clean vocals. The transitions between the two never feel disjointed, however, the organic qualities of the production play a big hand in this, helping this record to stay grounded and natural every step of the way.
‘Hold My Breath’ is without a doubt the best song of ‘Landless’. The guitar playing on this track is genuinely exciting to listen to and is paired with some impressive screamed vocals that are teaming with a sense of emotional catharsis. In a genre that is wrought with plagiarism, Eight Bells are a breath of fresh air, producing innovative and stimulating new music that’s not simply a cut and paste of what already exists. Definitely a band to keep an eye on and one you should jump at the chance of seeing live.
(8/10 Angela Davey)