This Is The Sound
(Nuclear Blast Records)
Throughout the justifiably maligned history of the Heavy Metal genre and, for that matter, the history of it's countless bastardized offspring, instrumentation--or a lack thereof--has been left open to creative interpertation. Artists and groups as diverse as AC/DC, Jackyl and Van Halen have employed the use of bagpipes, chainsaws an electric drill to supplement or 'compliment' their sounds. An ideal current example of such neo-traditionalism is the Winterthur and Lucerne, Switzerland-based trio Cellar Darling. Once the core of Celtic Folk Metal icons Eluveitie, the group re-armed themselves with a hurdy-gurdy (a stringed, hand-cranked instrument that creates sound via a rosined wheel rubbing against the strings) and a truly adventurous musical mentality prior to issuing the “Challenge/”Fire, Wind & Earth” single. Now, with the highly-anticipated release of their full-length debut This Is The Sound (2017), officially upon us all, the group is poised to unleash their intensely creative tonalities.
On the stellar This Is The Sound (2017), an expertly assembled fourteen song collection of hurdy-gurdy-fueled Folk Metal, each track, beginning with the maddeningly infectious first single “Black Moon” and the soaring--albeit relentlessly pummeling--“Hullaballoo”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Driving home each key focal point with a much-welcomed sense of authenticity, the group effortlessly distances themselves from their few legitimate contemporaries by deftly combining their already undeniably unique tonalities with a penchant for quasi-operatic storytelling. Justifiably being billed as the new wave of Folk Rock and the the new sound of Switzerland (as the release of the Eluveitie re-boot Evocation II: Pantheon, complete with the trio's endeavoring replacements looms on the horizon), their initial efforts are as fully impressive as they are thoroughly satisfying.
Continuing with the impossibly hook-laden “The Hermit” and the delightfully introspective “Fire, Wind & Earth”, the newly-rejuvenated combination of Anna Murphy (vocals, hurdy-gurdy), Ivo Henzi (guitars and bass) and Merlin Sutter (drums, ex-Morrigu) steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as an oft-sickening ease. Wasting little--if any--time engulfing all parties involved amid an often thunderous, multi-dimensional display of searing vocals, razor-sharp riffs and, perhaps most notably, the previously-mentioned hurdy-gurdy, the group deftly introduces us to their uniquely adventurous tonality. With the multi-octave Murphy, the daughter of Irish and Swiss Opera singers, breathlessly delivering a series of ethereal, unnervingly powerful performance, Henzi and Sutter offer the ideal accompaniment. Scoring 'major points' early and often by differentiating themselves from genre heavyweights à la Finntroll and Mägo de Oz, the group proves to be worthy of the buildup and hype.
Produced by the acclaimed Tommy Vetterli (a.k.a. Tommy T. Baron, ex-Coroner, Kreator, Stephan Eicher) at Freienbach, Switzerland-based New Sound Studio, other standouts, including the shimmering, heart-wrenching lament “Under The Oak Tree” and the enlightening, if not outright educational, “Hedonia”, only further support the group's still-burgeoning reputation as a bona fide creative and commercial force not to be ignored. Most definitely not for the narrow-minded, the group has readied itself for world domination with This Is The Sound serving as a sonic blueprint. Fortified throughout via a series of 'mediabook only' bonus cover tracks (“The Cold Song” from the Henry Purcell King Arthur Opera, the often overlooked Tears For Fears Electropop gem “Mad World” and the Queen classic “The Prophet's Song”), their penchants for seamlessly blending the elements of traditional Celtic and Folk music within an impressively dynamic Heavy Metal 'format' is flawlessly showcased.
An absolute must-have for die-hard Eluveitie completists and clueless tenderfoots alike, what ultimately separates This Is The Sound from it's well-heeled contemporaries is a much-welcomed focus on the lyrical and compositional 'originalities' that are so often absent from the crème de la crème of the genre's would-be elite. While the group's particular variation of the Folk Metal sub-gene may not necessarily appeal to everyone, the majority--if not all--of the decidedly imaginative wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to appeal to anyone with a genuine and sincere interest in broadening their musical horizons. Love 'em or loathe 'em, this is quite possibly as good as it gets. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a refreshingly imaginative if not outright imaginative alternative to the puréed banalities of the proverbial mainstream, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane corrective for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
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