The continuing allegory being written by Portland’s Eight Bells is one of isolation. Isolation in a world that can be unforgiving and uncaring. While that theme may seem completely overbearing at times, Eight Bells will unfortunately have to come to terms with the fact that they are isolated. They stand alone in their art. They stand alone, virtually peerless in the metal world today, as they push their sound to its most provocative and mesmerizing point to date.
Guitarist Melynda Jackson cut her teeth in the psyche rock collective SubArachnoid Space, a project built upon foundations of sand that comfortably allowed their music to shift and sway in whatever ways they saw fit. After their dissolution Jackson and original drummer Chris Van Huffle joined up with bassist Haley Westeiner to form Eight Bells under the premise of creating something sturdier to build upon and came away with something wholly darker and heavier than anything they had created before. With new album Landless, Eight Bells have gone further down the proverbial rabbit hole to a place where suffering and experimentation explode into something alluring and exquisite.
Somewhere between the destructive bombast of doom metal and the angular emanations of post-metal exists a world in which Eight Bells feel most at home. Throw in the frost-bitten unholiness of the occasional blast of black metal and you’d get about as close an approximation as you could possibly get in describing Eight Bells with generic genre descriptors. The reality though is that each track on this album is a veritable opus pulling from so many corners of the extreme music world. It’s an album steeped in breaking as many boundaries as Eight Bells can dream up. Whether they are drifting through a tranquil yet somber passage or shattering the illusion in waves of distorted guitars, screeching vocals, and blast beats, this is a band on a mission to make music that is as contemplative as it is enjoyable. This is an album simply bathed in dreamlike atmospherics and dripping with varying shades of blackened ambiance.
There are bands that paint by numbers, that follow the script laid out before them and there are bands that go out of their way to annihilate these concepts. Eight Bells lives and dies and lives again under the premise that nothing is off limits, that genres are simply names and nothing more. The end result is both unique and first-rate.
Landless is out now via Battleground Records. You can experience and purchase the album through the Eight Bells Bandcamp page.