(By Kira Schlechter, Guest Contributor/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
One band’s loss is a new band’s gain. The Swiss folk metal band Eluveitie lost three core members, singer / hurdy-gurdy player Anna Murphy, guitarist / bassist Ivo Henzi and drummer Merlin Sutter.
But they have gone on to form Cellar Darling and have released a pretty remarkable début effort, “This Is The Sound.” The album is out now from Nuclear Blast Records.
It’s a wonderfully deceptive album in many ways, luring you in with the first few tracks – which are perhaps more straightforward, more catchy – and then taking you effortlessly and almost subconsciously into the greater depth of the rest of the record. It happens without guile and with great skill.
So, we begin with the mantra of “Avalanche,” the title word twisted into tumbling syllables that mimic the feel of the natural event, driven by the powerful punch of guitar and drums. And “Black Moon,” which features Murphy’s near-chanting in the bridge and her siren-like wail.
Her voice has several dimensions, from angelic to demonic, from airy and optimistic to hollow and foreboding. It reaches an almost drone-like state at times as well.
Then we proceed to the haunting “Six Days” – heavy, chilling, suspenseful – that plays with a shifting 6/8 rhythm, led by the ebb and flow of Henzi’s guitar and is set off by a sparse flute solo. This sound in particular is one I hope they will explore further.
“The Hermit” is fairly straight-out metal – and who the hell uses the term “hoi polloi” to make a social statement? Good for them! Their lyrical themes vary, from the naturalistic (“Fire Wind & Earth,” “Water”) to the post-apocalyptic (“Rebels”).
The album only gets stronger, more compelling and more experimental, as it draws to a close. The brilliantly, beautifully schizophrenic “Under The Oak Tree” and its seeming thematic continuation, “High Above These Crowns,” lead into the almost Rush-like “Starcrusher”. Then there’s the starkly lovely opus “Hedonia” that seamlessly cycles through moods, from delicate folk to thundering jams.
Cellar Darling is not overtly one thing – they have plenty of metal elements, of course, and touches of folk, and a definite prog bent. The music is atmospheric, complex, extraordinary.
They have shown they have few limits. The songs are open-ended, leading to a realm of possibilities. If they allow themselves to remain an open conduit, even more amazing things are bound to occur. A very strong start indeed.
Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.