Sunday Sesh: Hell’s Bells
Ah, the bell. Truly the most majestic of percussion instruments. Whether it’s signalling an imminent invasion or celebrating victory over a bitter rival, the solemn bell has unrivaled potential for lifting the spirits of the faithful, warning of impending doom, and bearing grim witness to the inexorable march of time. No wonder, then, that the mighty bell has such a strong history of union with heavy metal. Friends, I need more bell in my life, and in this Sunday Sesh, you’re going to give it to me.
Yesterday afternoon, as my dog slumbered lazily in the hazy, waning Carolina light, I sought to steel my reserve against another two hours of research work by blasting some gnarly old death metal. My pill of choice? Severance‘s classic 1991 demo, Afterbirth of Infamy. Believe it or not, this was my first time flooding my eardrums with Severance’s deliciously raw and wriggling early work, but I know no better motivation for literature reviews than filthy death metal, and one look at the cover for Afterbirth of Infamy confirmed my suspicion that those moldy riffs would fit the bill. Much to my heart’s delight, “Entombed,” the album’s opening salvo, sets the tone with an eerie clang following a brief horror movie intro. It was perfect, just the sort of morose note I needed to forget the beautiful day outside and hunker down into my work. The bell brought me gloom, and that gloom allowed me to persist.
But Severance is far from the only band to waltz with the staid percussive device beneath the moon. In fact, perhaps the most famous incidence of a bell in all of metaldom even has bell in the title. Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is the first song that leaps to mind when I think of bells, and I’m sure the same is true for many of you. However, the bell’s reach extends far beyond the biggest band in metal, and I want to hear more.
I have more research work to do today, so hit me with your best bells!