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Bell : Tidecaller

This Heavy/Doom Metal debut from Sweden's Bell has some moments but lacks overall conviction.

It's funny, so the old saying goes, you wait ages for a bus, and then two come along at once... In this instance though, two releases by two different entities, in two different genres, playing strictly by the rules, performing well enough, and boasting decently polished productions, but falling a fair old way short in grabbing the attention, or leaving any kind of a lasting impression. Recently reviewed Swiss Post-Rockers Darius delivered a reasonable if somewhat unmemorable EP in the shape of 'Cl˘ture', and now we have Sweden's Trad Metallers Bell. These guys are probably going to appeal to those of you who like what The Sword have been doing in more recent times, along with people who have yet to discover the delights of various Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus releases but would prefer it if they toned down the Doom a bit. And therein lies the issue. Why wouldn't you dig out copies of those aforementioned bands in their prime instead of listening to 'Tidecaller'? Why, indeed?

It's not entirely fair to simply imply that Bell are pale imitations of Candlemass or Solitude Aeternus or even The Sword for that matter. (If anything they're much closer to being a paltry mix of all three). For one thing they are somewhat less Doom-laden, and they throw in a bit more straight up Metal, somewhere along the lines of The Gates of Slumber or possibly Spiritus Mortis. In fact, the album tracks kind of oscillate fairly evenly between Metal and Doom, be it Trad or Epic in style. Some of it would not have been out of place on The Obsessed's recent-ish effort, 'Sacred'. But, there you go again, you'd be struggling to find a reason why not to listen to that over this. In Bell's defence, the more spins I've given 'Tidecaller', the better it's sounded, and the more favourable moments I've discovered. First listen yielded very little. But on reflection, they can certainly write some decent enough riffs, rooted in a nicely unashamed old school vibe. 'Dawn of the Reaper' is a title and a song so '80s it hurts. Hell, there's even bits of Mercyful Fate in here along with some rather obvious nods to the biggest Metal band on the planet from time to time too. You'll know when you hear them. And singing about pharoahs and witches never really goes out of fashion does it...?

'Tidecaller' has its moments for sure. It ambles along, raising the occasional eyebrow of intrigue before disappointingly and far too often, returning to fallower ground. What 'Tidecaller' doesn't do is grab you by the balls and get you headbanging like it's 1987. Which, given it's overall aesthetic and posture, it absolutely should. It has all the quality ingredients but just fails to impress heavily in the way they're put together. For one thing I'd like to have heard more of the lead guitar which, when in evidence, elevates the album far above its overall average score. The gang vocals on the title track I'd like to have heard less of. It really is a fairly even fifty-fifty split between the good and the bad. They don't consider themselves a Doom band, and I have to agree. But I disagree with their assertion that they are influenced by bands who experiment. For my money this is an album of strictly orthodox Heavy Metal incorporating elements of Doom. Sadly, though, a rather average one.

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Reviewer's rating: 5/10


Tracklist :
1. Secret Mountain
2. Cross In The Sky
3. Tidecaller
4. Angels Blood
5. Awoken
6. Reach Out
7. Blackened Sun
8. Locked And Burrowed
9. Dawn Of The Reaper

Duration : Approx. 49 minutes

Visit the Bell bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-12-02 by Matt Halsey
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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