Bell are a four piece from Gothenburg who play classic Doom Metal. Think Candlemass and St Vitus with a little bit of Witchcraft thrown in. Plenty of groove here in the 9 tracks on offer.
“Secret Mountain” kicks things off with the sound of a beer being pulled – makes a change from the usual lighter meeting doobie effect. The band comprise of Martin Welcel on vocals and guitar, Manne Flood on drums and Jesper Lung on bass. Welcel can certainly belt out the tunes getting the 70’s occult rock meets 80’s metal mix just right whilst the music luxuriates in layers of rich smoky groovy doom. Yeeah I like this! It is great to hear some big Sabbath style riffs mixed in with some very European vocals and unashamed horns in the air slow bang monsters. “Cross In the Sky” is one such beast as is “Tidecaller” that follows. So imagine my surprise when NYHC style gang vocals burst forth from my speakers! This is not an abrupt change of genre though as the track is a chugging melodic metal delight.
Poor Martin Welcel sounds like he is straining out an unwilling bowel evacuee on the opening cries of “Angel’s Blood”. The arrangement here is a little odd with the layered vocals sounding like an analogue vocoder. However “Awoken” starts with a tolling bell and a clap of thunder. Hmm that rings a …..bell. Heavy metal cliché it may be but this serves as an atmospheric intermission before “Reach Out”. The covers loving brute in me was hoping for Four Tops. Whilst there is no metallic Motown I was not disappointed the fist in the air metallic doom is back. “Blackened Sun” follows and soaring vocals and a galloping riff are the order of the day. My complaint here is that the band rein things back a little too much. Things start to get going but instead of going with the lava flow the way is dammed in favour of another vocal line that shoots off into the sky and I certainly didn’t need the cod falsetto.
“Locked and Burrowed “ has a gothic tinge to it’s opening and with a different vocal it could probably be quite the lightbulb screwer . Instead this is a doleful yet strangely uplifting slab of melancholy. The cymbal splashes cutting through the bass and guitars like a beam of light in a cavern.
Bell leave “Dawn of the Reaper” to draw the veil over “Tidecaller” and it is business as usual . A solid slab of doomy riffage with plenty to get the hips a swinging. Bell are certainly an interesting proposition. Whether they manage to get noticed in a swollen sea of nostalgic retro bands is yet to be seen but they are definitely worth a second listen.
(7/10 Matt Mason)