EIGHT BELLS - Out TODAY Via Seventh Rule Recordings
The Captain's Daughter
19 February 2013
A native of rural Texas, Melynda Jackson grew up an only child. The isolated grasslands and windswept landscapes of her youth would later inspire her to evoke equally mysterious terrain through experimental guitar explorations and wordless vocalizations in SubArachnoid Space. SAS took Jackson far afield with a series of albums on Relapse and various indie labels, a split EP with Bardo Pond, tours with Acid Mother’s Temple, and a trip to Japan. Jackson put the band to bed after fifteen years in 2011 following the release of its final album, Eight Bells.
Now based in Portland, Oregon Jackson’s EIGHT BELLS (the band) continues in the tradition of heavy guitar exploration, adding a blackened dissonance to the mix and minimalist vocals. Jackson is accompanied by classically trained six-string bassist Haley Westeiner who created the centerpiece vocals on "Fate and Technology" and also provides harmonic counterpoint to Jackson’s newly discovered vocal talents. SubArachnoid Space drummer Chris Van Huffel resumes the throne he occupied for ten years, bringing his thunderous, nuanced double kick playing with him. With this power trio, Jackson has found a group that brings focus and support to her unapologetically expressionistic experimental metal music.
EIGHT BELLS debut album The Captain’s Daughter was “engine-eared” by master producer Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Agalloch). Its four songs are alternately beautiful and terrifying, mixing elements of post black metal and progressive rock in a decidedly unique manner.
The record opens with instrumental warm-up “Tributaries,” an energetic prelude that often serves as the opening number at live shows. Next up is “Fate And Technology,” a song Jackson describes as being about “powerlessness.” The title track “Captain’s Daughter” is a further voyage into the Victorian imagery that abounds on this album. It is the longest and most epic track, the jewel in the crown. The “Captains’ Daughter” derives its name from a nautical euphemism, once being the polite name for a torture device more commonly known as the cat o’ nine tails. The album finale “Yellowed Wallpaper,” is an instrumental based on the literary hysteria of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Her original tale The Yellow Wallpaper from 1892 concerned recuperation in isolation, which led to madness.
With EIGHT BELLS, Melynda Jackson has taken another step to distance her artistry from the hodgepodge of the psychedelic scene, and the insipid limpness of post-rock. According to Invisible Oranges EIGHT BELLS performs, “Psychedelic jams that don’t skimp on the heavy, anchored and propelled by Haley Westiener’s jaw-dropping basswork. A national tour with EIGHT BELLS, Behold the Arctopus and Electro Quarterstaff would triple Berklee’s applications.” An approving nod from SSG Music exclaims, “EIGHT BELLS brings long-form metal compositions filled with sinister sounding guitar loops and crushing bass. Drummer Chris Van Huffel provides the glue between Melynda Jackson‘s dizzying guitar work and bassist Haley Westeiner‘s angry thumps.” As an added bonus, Kris Force of Amber Asylum appears on the title track adding a ghostly guest vocal.