Dissident Aggression: Ringing The Eight Bells

Posted by on February 8, 2013

Welcome to Dissident Aggression, where we sow the future, reap the present and highlight the past to bring you the underground of The Underground…
Back in the 90’s and ’00’s Relapse Records had a sub label called Release Entertainment.  Release would work with a lot of ambient and noise artists like Tribes of Neurot, Lull, Merzbow, and Trial of the Bow.  They’d also work with neo-classical outfit Amber Asylum.  But probably the best band they worked with was SubArachnoid Space.  If you’ve never heard SubArachnoid Space then you’ve never heard the sonic equivalent of the earth revolving around the sun.  They were best described as “ambient space rock” but that’s a bit of an understatement.  Picture the creepiest parts of Pink Floyd mixed with the heaviest parts of Acid Mother’s Temple and you’ll start to get a clearer understanding of how amazing this band was.

One of the driving forces behind SubArachnoid Space was guitarist Melynda Jackson.  Jackson has resurfaced, spearheading a new project by the name of Eight Bells (which also happens to be the name of the last SubArachnoid Space record).  Eight Bells is a three piece with Jackson handling guitar and most of what little vocal duties this project demands (Although the ghostly wails of the album’s title track are handled by Kris Force of the aforementioned Amber Asylum fame).  The group is rounded out by Chris Van Huffel on drums (who played with Jackson in SaS) and classically trained, six-string bassist Haley Westeiner.  They’ve come together to release their debut album, The Captain’s Daughter.  But if you are expecting limp stoner jams that just amble on forever with no apparent purpose then you’ve come to the wrong place.

The first thing you’ll notice about this album is that it’s shrouded in darkness.  It’s not as dark as say, a Neurosis album, but it sets up unsettling atmospheres with surprising ease.  Dark spirits dwell on this record in ways that most metal bands wish they could summon them.  The last two tracks on this album, the title track and “Yellowed Wallpaper” are especially eerie.  It’s simply not recommended that you listen to certain parts of this album alone in dark places.  Eight Bells is able to capture the core essences of doom and black metal and successfully meld them with tripped out space rock that is so fulfilling that it would have fit perfectly flowing like liquid hot magma out of the 70’s Krautrock scene.  It’s a deliciously nasty, yet altogether beautiful sound.  Fans of bands as varied as Earth, Neurosis, Can and 13th Floor Elevators will find something to like about this record.


Metal Homework:
The more I thought about this the more I realized you should just go familiarize yourself with SubArachnoid Space if you haven’t already by now.  Start with the albums Endless Renovation and These Things Take Time.  Easily two of the best psych rock albums you will ever hear.

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