Primitive Man and Bell Witch played ONCE Ballroom – 11/5

Denver’s Primitive Man and Seattle’s Bell Witch teamed up for a crushing fall tour that swept through Somerville’s ONCE Ballroom last Sunday, with some local support from Upheaval and Churchburn. 

Both the nihilistically sludgy power trio of Primitive Man and the funeral doom duo of Bell Witch are riding high on acclaimed 2017 records, and their co-headlining tour was an inspired pairing.

With an abbreviated take on their masterful October release Mirror Reaper – a single 83-minute behemoth of a song on record – Bell Witch were heavy in both the traditional and abstract senses. Bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer Jesse Shreibman conjured thunderous moments, but found introspective tension in between them too. Even in partial form, Mirror Reaper‘s dynamic contrasts of light and dark, loud and soft were a moving live experience. The record is a grower in the most complimentary sense, and seeing it live unveiled another layer of its mystique.

Primitive Man brought something less nuanced to the table, and I mean that as a compliment too. The trio’s sophomore LP Caustic live up its name with a double-album-length immersion in feedback-laced, doom-tinged sludge metal recalling the relentless anguish of Grief or Noothgrush. Playing a number of those new songs, the band was immersive and uncompromising.

Opening the show were Boston’s Upheaval and Providence’s Churchburn, who brought black and death metal touches to an immensely heavy Sunday night. See photos from all four sets below.