Dark folk act Aerial Ruin and doom duo Bell Witch are fully realizing their past collaborations. The two outfits have announced a new joint album, Stygian Bough Volume 1, set for a June 26th release. They also shared the track “Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)”.
The clean vocals of Aerial Ruin’s Erik Moggridge have appeared on Bell Witch’s previous three albums — 2012’s Longing, 2015’s Four Phantoms, and most recently, 2017’s brooding two-part epic Mirror Reaper. Moggridge is essentially an ancillary member of the band, usually handling vocals for quieter sections. When combined, Aerial Ruin and Bell Witch purvey a doomy slowcore overcast with a meditative sadness, as can be heard on “Heavy Torn Low II (The Toll)”.
It also marks the integration of guitar into Bell Witch’s typical bass-drum format, recalling Ulver’s pivot to a folk treatment on 1996’s Kveldssanger. The Longing track and Moggridge’s first song with Bell Witch, “Row of Endless Waves” — a chilling dirge of sorrow that has resonated with bassist Dylan Desmond over the years — served as the guide for Stygian Bough Volume 1. The album’s title and subject matter was inspired by Sir James George Frazer’s 19th century study of mythology and religion, The Golden Bough.
“They presented that song [“Rows (of Endless Waves)”] to me in a mostly instrumental form with the idea that it’s about a ghost trapped on rows of waves that can’t reach the land,” Moggridge said in a press release. “I ran with this idea and started to think of the ghost of a king who, if he reached land could be reborn and rule again. The king is also a larger metaphor for humanity who rules over the planet and other species. On this new album, our ghost upon the waves flees not towards the land but towards death. The narrative, as much as it exists, is loose and not linear and definitely stream of consciousness. There are cyclical and spherical qualities to the journey where death, desolation, and the spirit are reflected in myriad ways.”
The album was recorded by Randall Dunn at the legendary grunge studio Avast in Seattle and mastered by Bob Weston in Chicago. Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin plan to tour in support of the LP “when it’s safe to do so.”
Stygian Bough Volume 1 Artwork:
Stygian Bough Volume 1 Tracklist:
01. The Bastard Wind
02. Heaven Torn Low I (The Passage)
03. Heaven Torn Low II (The Toll)
05. The Unbodied Air