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Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate


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Bart thumbnail
Bart It's not as great as the Mirror Reaper, but almost no one can ever meet that standard. Though I acknowledge this is just part one of a three piece arrangement. Still...just settling into this release is a damn fine experience.
Alasdair Duncan
Alasdair Duncan thumbnail
Alasdair Duncan This feels like a genuine composition, it's not a patchwork of smaller pieces of music. It's an epic journey with a satisfying conclusion.
Heterodontosauridae thumbnail
Heterodontosauridae Obvious comparisons to Mirror Reaper are inevitable when discussing The Clandestine Gate, however I think this album sounds pretty great on its own merit. There's a lot less repetition to be found here, and while the atmosphere isn't as depressing or heavy, it makes up for that in memorability. Some sections on here are absolutely fantastic, as is the record. Big thumbs up from me.
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Double CD packaged in a gatefold jacket with 12-page booklet.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 5 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $15.99 CAD or more 


  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $12 CAD  or more



  • Future's Shadow Part 1 ECO MIX Vinyl (Bandcamp Exclusive)
    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album



    Double LP packaged in a gatefold jacket with black flood. Bandcamp exclusive colourway. Download card also included in addition to automatic Bandcamp download upon purchase.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

  • The Clandestine Gate TAPE Edition
    Cassette + Digital Album

    8-Panel Fold Out J-Card, White Cassette Shell.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

Reflected whisper of me, a drowned ruse Shallow dug in a pulsing maze Deafened foe I see- glowing in a labyrinth of waves The aired specter, deception of the light That I follow Sculpted emptiness of all things Held in shade, cast by the spark Returning veil Hollow specter bleeding on the dark, The fleeting breath in the returning light That I follow Incessant wheel of Time, Dawn’s bodies Formless waves frozen in night Immutable eyes Stare infinite and squander sight Gaze backwards but the waxing light, That I follow The moment’s hands eluded by that which time astrays Scorch the flames of tomorrows to ashes by today, A lifetime’s shadow Under wingless wind to flight, unborn memory array That echoes in forever, decay bloomed of the light That I follow The greatest weight, the breathed wind blown gone What innumerable shudders of the recurring past Open ahead What matter of a flown moment shall spread last In blooming decay under the climbing light That I follow The greatest weight, this recurring dawn The greatest weight, falling glass the rising gate Of a sightless phantom, Sullen butcher, the fleeing horizon that forever escapes Crashing wave of chariots, arrows of the light That I follow The moment, if ascent from the sinking blindness Would remove the barbs from their hold Emerging spring A phantom forest rises in the dawn’s cold Bleeding wounds pulse in the light That I follow If water could stand, prehensive stone sea An arrow loosed at forever will soon crash As blind waves Climbing rain light throned, the wind shuts Ten thousand gates- mirrored graves of dawn Blinded foe I hear- in walls ravens lead upon Beneath the warless chariot of blinding light That I follow Unhallowed ubiquitous grasp Hold everything to the light That I follow Dawn shrouding the void to pass That when daylight comes- arrows of birth loose And Death rains In the imbrued dawn of springs wound Worms pulse the breathless veins Of permeation’s throne Below and above the mountains reign Enfleshing the spineless ribs of light That I follow No- but striking life, dawns phantom truth Climbing to darkness shedding the light That I follow Death’s waking crown a blinding shore Breaking waves reaching above The beginning Of the end of night it grew of Stone organ, purging in the light That I follow Purging storm, clandestine gate, the glare escapes Carving mountains, pulsing gale, the light reappears The world’s worn Skin pile folds, in the distance birth nears In sinking blackness under waves of light That I follow An edge above time, heaven’s spire The precipitous tip of Death’s sight, soon Still air, unshadow the miser stone, Time, wind into the world of dust Falling, climbing Hold untouched a fleeting breath’s cusp Of recurring eternity, the rising light That I follow (Tooth of predation) The Down-stroking rapacious eye of doom In the diadem of waves through the light That I follow


Nothing's bigger than life. All vastnesses -- expanding space, infinite time -- crouch inside of consciousness. On a historical scale, to say nothing of a cosmic one, the individual human life vanishes, and yet it's the only aperture any of us get into reality. It's barely there, and it's all there is.

That's the paradox Bell Witch drives at. For more than a decade, the Pacific Northwestern doom metal band has sent tides surging over the seawalls of the song form, unravelling conventional expectations about the ways music stations itself in time to absorb a listener's attention. Rather than seek catharsis, the duo's songs heave themselves through time at a glacial pace, staving off resolution in favor of a trancelike capsule eternity. Invoking both boundlessness and claustrophobia in the same charged gesture, Bell Witch cultivates a sense of time outside of time, an oasis inside an increasingly frenetic media culture.

For their new album, The Clandestine Gate, bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond and drummer/vocalist Jesse Shreibman exploded Bell Witch's bounds. Like 2017's lauded Mirror Reaper, The Clandestine Gate is a single 83-minute track -- a composition that pulses and breathes on a filmic timeframe. It constitutes the first chapter in a planned triptych of longform albums, collectively called Future's Shadow. "Eventually, the end of the last album will be looped around to the first to make a circle," says Desmond. "It can be continuously looped, like a day cycle. This would be dawn. The next one would be noon. The following one would be sundown, with dawn and sundown both having something of night."

Bell Witch began tracing the sequences that would form Future's Shadow in live performance while on tour with Neurosis and Mono. At first, Shreibman and Desmond planned to release each chapter in the sequence as they completed it, touring each album in between. Then, in early 2020, pandemic restrictions forced them to step back from that timeline. Locked out of their rehearsal space, they worked on what would become The Clandestine Gate at a slower burn than any of their previous projects. The album germinated over the course of more than two years, a pace that allowed their music to evolve organically to a state of more focused, grounded minimalism.

While traces of organ and synthesizer hovered over Mirror Reaper and Bell Witch's 2020 collaboration with Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Volume 1, The Clandestine Gate drew those instruments closer to the center of its compositions. "We started experimenting with letting more of the elements shine on their own," says Shreibman. The band reunited with their longtime producer Billy Anderson as they began negotiating these new compositional weights. The record begins with an eight-minute organ passage that builds slowly, like the susurrations of dawn, before Desmond's distortion-choked bass cleaves it open. Throughout their new material, Shreibman and Desmond also took the opportunity to implement new vocal strategies. "I wanted the vocals to be more active, rather than being on top of the soundscape," notes Shreibman. On The Clandestine Gate, Bell Witch's twinned voices build off of the chantlike textures of previous records while steering toward more developed melodic lines, structured harmonies, and rhythmic death metal growls.

The expansive scale of Future's Shadow gave Bell Witch more leeway to plumb themes that have long percolated throughout their work. The concept of eternal return -- that time doesn't end and death doesn't punctuate life, but both go on forever in an infinite loop no one can remember -- inflected the development of The Clandestine Gate after Desmond encountered the idea in Nietzche's book The Gay Science. "I read the eternal return concept and was like, 'oh, yeah, all of our songs have been about this all the while," Desmond says. "Anything could be applied to a cyclical point of view. The sun comes up every morning. Spring comes every year, winter comes every year. Everything has a cycle: a life, a death, an existence, a non-existence."

The films of 20th century Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky similarly supplied a framework for the movements of The Clandestine Gate and Future's Shadow as a whole. Tarkovsky's movies creep glacially, powered by the performances of his actors, which imbue his weathered landscapes with a tumultuous interiority. Simple actions -- carrying a candle across a room, tossing a metal nut into an overgrown field -- carry life-and-death weight, a strategy echoed in Bell Witch's suspension of minimal melodies across planetary expanses. "Tarkovsky's intention of poetry through visuals has a strong parallel to ours through sound," notes Desmond. "His drawn-out scenes are similar in execution to what we're doing musically, and his films are a big inspiration for this album and triptych."

The immense gravity of a work like The Clandestine Gate allows these ideas to simmer in a way that feels profoundly and somatically intuitive -- not just a philosophical exercise, but an embodied truth. By slowing down both their creative process and the tempo of the music itself, Bell Witch digs even deeper into their long standing focus: the way life spills on inside its minuscule container, both eternal and fleeting, a chord that echoes without resolution. As both the beginning and end of the Future's Shadow triptych, The Clandestine Gate opens a new chapter in Bell Witch's macroscopic minimalism: the start of a yawning orbit around an increasingly massive core.


released April 21, 2023

Engine-Eared by Billy Anderson at Avast Recording Studios.
Mixed by Billy Anderson at Flora.
Mastered by Justin Weis at Traxworx.
Artwork/Cover Painting by Jordi Diaz Alamà.
Design/layout by Chimere Noire.


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Bell Witch Seattle, Washington

For more than a decade, Bell Witch have sent tides surging over the seawalls of the song form, unraveling conventional expectations about the ways music stations itself in time to absorb a listener's attention.

The Clandestine Gate pulses and breathes on a filmic timeframe. It constitutes the first chapter in a triptych of longform albums, collectively called Future's Shadow.
... more


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