June 29, 2017 Cellar Darling – This Is The Sound (Album Review)
If we were talking about Horror movies, Cellar Darling might be a dastardly little gloom dolly, sitting in the basement and haunting your nightmares. Fortunately for those afraid of polystyrene-stuffed appendages, instead Cellar Darling are a trio of Metal musicians from Switzerland. Their debut studio effort, This Is The Sound, arises from the primordial ooze on Friday, June 30, 2017 thanks to Nuclear Blast Records.
Eluveitie have served as a prime example of Switzerland’s Folk Metal heroics for the past decade. In 2016, with five studio releases to her credit as the band’s lead vocalist, dark pixie Anna Murphy chose to leave the band she had been a vital part of since the tender age of sixteen. She recently explained to CrypticRock that her departure – while seemingly spur of the moment – was based on a gut feeling and a need to move forward with new projects. While she had previously released a solo effort, entitled Cellar Darling, fans should not confuse that material with the band of the same name.
Cellar Darling, the band – featuring Multi-Instrumentalist Murphy, Guitarist/Bassist Ivo Henzi, and Drummer Merlin Sutter – are all Eluveitie alumni, though they are adamantly working to establish themselves as their own unique and vital force throughout the Metal community. With the release of their Nuclear Blast debut, This Is The Sound, the trio prove unequivocally that they are full of chutzpah, luscious storytelling, and enchanting melodies that cannot be denied.
This Is The Sound opens with the heavy-hitting, beautifully haunting “Avalanche,” portrayed in a gorgeously artistic video, this track is an undeniable force that sprawls a dark fairytale with Middle Eastern influences that leak from Murphy’s hurdy-gurdy. Also depicted in a stunning video shot on Tenerife, “Black Moon” sees Metal guitars weave into Murphy’s soaring vocals, creating an enticing spell that beckons the end of days. It is literally impossible to make it through these two tracks without falling immediately in lust with Cellar Darling!
The album’s title comes from the lyrics of “Challenge,” a beautifully seductive Folk Metal offering that is a bit of an ode to what the German’s call Schadenfreude (delighting in other’s misery). Whether finding joy in the challenge or simply weaving a unique, ethereal tale, Murphy’s vocals absolutely soar. Interestingly, “Hullaballoo” highlights Murphy’s work with the hurdy-gurdy, while the over five-minute “Six Days” weaves a dark, resonating tale with meandering guitars and stellar bass-lines. It moves the threesome into further storytelling with groover “The Hermit,” enticing interlude “Water,” and the elemental fairytale of “Fire, Wind & Earth.” No, that last is not about your mother’s favorite funktastic Soul group!
From here, the band progress to “Rebels,” a bass-heavy, seductive groove that features a hurdy-gurdy solo. “Under the Oak Tree” begins a poetic tale that pleads, “I hope you understood things I meant to convey but never could.” The story continues into “…High Above These Crowns,” an intensely atmospheric, symphonic sound that displays Cellar Darling in a fully massive light. They continue this multi-layered sound on the full “Starcrusher,” leading into a 7-minute-plus experience entitled “Hedonia.” Performed in German, this lush yet minimalist spell is woven with Murphy’s beautifully passionate vocals accompanied by her masterful work with the hurdy-gurdy. It all comes to a conclusion with a journey through the moors in search of innocence, on “Redemption.”
This Is The Sound is a seductive amalgamation of sounds that weave Metal fairy-tales that feel Symphonic in their fullness, anchored in Folk with their glorious storytelling, and yet always somehow Gothic with their delight in the darkness. It is abundantly clear that Murphy is a storyteller: a weaver of emotional tales that soar to the highest highs only to crash amidst the salty waves of reality. On This Is The Sound, she lays her heart bare and the end result is bloody gorgeous. For the love of all things poetic, artistic, macabre, and beautifully sincere, CrypticRock give Cellar Darling’s This Is The Sound 5 of 5 stars.