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Review

Bellrope – You Must Relax Review

Band: Bellrope
Album: You Must Relax
Label: Exile On Mainstream
Genre: Doom
Country: Germany
Release Date: February 22nd, 2019

I love being assaulted by noisy, heavy, and disgusting riffage. I can’t get enough punishment when it comes to the metal that I enjoy, and this band delivers a sweet, sweet beating throughout a lot of this album. Bellrope is a four-piece, with a pair of bass guitars, doom outfit coming out of Mannheim, Germany. You Must Relax is their debut record, and what a debut it is. The band themselves self-identify on their website as “the total absence of tonal sanity”, and this might be one of the truest statements ever made. You Must Relax is unrelenting in its noisiness, and it violates all boundaries of listenable music all at once. This isn’t pretty, atmospheric doom or synth heavy symphonic stuff, Bellrope are hell-bent on punishing their listeners, holding them captive in an insane and unreal, but sometimes long-winded, experience.

The opening track – “Hollywood 2001/Rollrost” – is three and a half minutes devoid of instruments, a visceral and gut-wrenching bombardment of screams and whistling feedback. This could be enough to put off certain listeners, but if you power through it, it sets the tone for the other four tracks on the album. But when moving into track two, the reprieve of only a moment of silence morphs into a hypnotically heavy bass riff that is rather menacing, and paired with the screams circling you, it is ten minutes of apocalyptic savagery.

After the second track fades out, an ominous pounding of the drums leads into yet another slow and marching bass riff. When the vocals come in, a sinister and wretched crying out of the album’s title “You Must Relax”, it got me good. I love the strained and tortured sounding screams that riddle this whole record, the vocals on a lot of the tracks being the real highlights of this thing, used rather sparingly to good effect. The delivery of the three vocalists are spot on and tonally consistent throughout the record, gripping and at times it can feel as if you’re being sucked into a mud-pit or into quicksand. Eventually, it does speed but it could never be classified as fast. The riffs at points turn into a light jog maybe. There are no break neck speed guitar solos on this 11-minute track, or any of the tracks.

“TD200”, the fourth track on You Must Relax, is the doom-iest track on this record. Filled with clean vocals juxtaposed with a more guitar driven riff really is a tonal shift on the record, and I don’t think I’m all the down for it. Though there are some well placed feedback sounds and some noisy scratching of the guitars, the whole song just doesn’t have the same heaviness as the previous two tracks. It feels like a missed opportunity in that I wanted the whole record to lack any sort of sanity, but “TD200”, as a song, makes too much sense. Clocking in at another 11-minutes, I sometimes felt that the track was just too long, and even though the samples are a cool effect and a smart addition, I’d cut some time from it. It didn’t captivate me like the earlier long and droning moments on the album.

The last track, “CBD/Hereinunder” returns the bass heavy riffs that were a huge part of the first half of the record. At an eighteen-minute run-time, the circling bass riff is paired with distorted and squealing, almost ethereal, guitars – switching back and forth between chugging riffs and oozing soloing. Culminating in another marching riff, the track has some disembodied vocals quiet in the mix that give a dizzying effect and close out the debut strong.

Although it isn’t perfect, the Bellrope’s debut, You Must Relax is an exciting and at times confusing album. I think that it is a promising effort from a band that indeed does lack some sanity, but I wanted true insanity, and it just wasn’t delivered to me how I would have liked it. I’ll be keeping an eye on this band in the future, because, if they continue to let their last little bit of their minds slip away, they’ll be an incredibly unique and upsetting doom project.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tracklist:

1. Hollywood 2001/Rollrost
2. Old Overholt
3. You Must Relax
4. TD200
5. CBD/Hereinunder

Total Playing Time: 54:19

Click here to visit Bellrope’s Bandcamp
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