Dylan Desmond and Jesse Shreibman, of the critically acclaimed doom-metal duo Bell Witch, and dark folk musician Erik Moggridge, a.k.a. Aerial Ruin, have joined forces for a joint album titled Stygian Bough Volume I. Moggridge has worked with Bell Witch before, notably contributing guest vocals to their last album, Mirror Reaper, but the forthcoming LP — due out June 26th and available for pre-order now — represents their first full-fledged, long-form collaboration. Featuring art by Adam Burke and produced by Randall Dunn at Seattle’s Avast Recording, Stygian Bough Volume I was inspired, in large part, by the Bell Witch song “Rows (of Endless Waves),” which marked Moggridge’s first appearance with the band.
“They presented that song [“Rows (of Endless Waves)”] to me in a mostly instrumental form with the idea that it’s about a ghost trapped on rows of waves that can’t reach the land,” Moggridge said, looking back. “I ran with this idea and started to think of the ghost of a king who, if he reached land could be reborn and rule again. The king is also a larger metaphor for humanity who rules over the planet and other species. On this new album our ghost upon the waves flees not towards the land but towards death. The narrative, as much as it exists, is loose and not linear and definitely stream of consciousness. There are cyclical and spherical qualities to the journey where death, desolation, and the spirit are reflected in myriad ways.”
“Stygian Bough is a reference to the theme of The Golden Bough,” Desmond commented, nodding to anthropologist James George Frazer’s comparative study of mythology and religion. “The book’s theme is centered on the rites of a temple in ancient Italy where slaves were transformed into kings by slaying he who reigned as such after successfully stealing the Golden Bough from the sacred tree within the temple. Within that notion, a different sort of slavery was brought upon the newly crowned king, as he must understand sooner or later that his fate would ultimately be the same as his predecessor. In short, the golden bough made a king out of a slave only to find they were now enslaved to a different sort of tyranny, always stalking them from the darkest shadows of their imagination. From this perspective, the ‘golden bough’ is better understood as a deception casting darkness. Thus, Stygian Bough.”
Hear lead single “Heaven Torn Low II (the toll),” and check out the full track listing, below.
Stygian Bough Volume I track listing:
1. The Bastard Wind
2. Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)
3. Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)
5. The Unbodied Air