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For Whom The Bell Tolls - 55%

SweetLeaf95, April 15th, 2018

Ever come across something that looks so intriguing and seems so promising, but it's just not quite there? Check out that album artwork, it's got such a great color scheme and draws interest just upon looking. Bell are a Swedish doom metal act that put out their first record Tidecaller a few months ago independently. Unfortunately, there isn't really anything memorable about this, and after many listens it just doesn't stick as much as predicted.

This breed of doom metal takes the approach that many a newer acts are taking, with longer drawn out vocal outbursts atop steady guitar rhythms that aren't so slow that you wonder if they're gonna change chords. No, the music is actually very good, with some variation in pace and style. "Blackened Sun" pulls off some palm-muted chugging at a quick rate while also reeling in some slow, deep, riffs. Instrumentally, it's pretty stripped down too; very basic, no need for extra effects or atypical instruments. It's done in a way that doesn't get repetitive and is backed by pretty solid rhythms. So what's the problem?

As stated in the first paragraph, the songwriting itself isn't very good, and none of them really stick or are what I would call, memorable. There's a whole lot of potential that doesn't really go too far. As great as the instrumentation is, the vocal style is very dull and and seems phoned in, lacking really any kind of animation. I'm not saying that everything has to have a chorus or "catchiness" to it (because this certainly doesn't), but there's gotta be some exciting or eccentric element to fill in that gap, and Tidecaller ultimately just fails to deliver. There's no build-ups, no hooks, little emotion, and just lacks anything beyond the ability to play a melody. Usually when something like this comes across my radar, I'll give it many listens to sink in, or maybe pick up on something I've been missing; but it just isn't here. These guys have got some mad skill, they just can't write good songs.