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Album Review: Cellar Darling – The Spell

Cellar Darling The Spell ReviewCellar Darling is a band with a focus on creating music that blurs the lines between folk and progressive rock.

Recently, the group set out release a brand new concept album called “The Spell.” The project features 13 tracks, and the set list is a musical journey where haunting textures alternate with aggressive metal segments and folky overtones, with a progressive attitude.

The album’s theme focuses on a story written by Anna, in which a girl falls in love with the physical personification of death. The inspiration is based around the Dance of Death artistic genre from the middle ages, in which similar stories were depicted in art, literature, and song.

The band has been releasing a few exciting singles from the album for the build up, with some video artwork done by Costin Chioreanu. Some of the singles include “Death”, which combines extremely powerful guitars from Ivo, with punchy drums and Annas amazing vocals. The song has a rather traditional metal sound through and through, and what makes it very distinctive is the attention to detail in the vocal production. The singing is always adorned with tasteful reverb effects, as well as great harmonies, adding so much depth and detail to the sound.

On songs like the title track itself, the band explores melodic drones and acapella segments, before leading into a song that combines what I would call Celtic influences with Merlins massive metal drumming (say that five times fast) and grungy guitar riffs. The slow, heavy tempo of this track, with the down-tuned guitar licks, are absolutely hitting the mark, giving this song a lot of depth. This is one of the most interesting moments on the album for me, particularly due to the variety in terms of textures and atmospheres. The lead guitar work is also excellent, reminding me somewhat of post-rock acts such as This Will Destroy You and Russian Circles, among others.

“Drown” has a unique arrangement, with a special flavor that combines catchy melodies with unusual patterns and astonishing string arrangements. The percussive sounds are very cinematic, and they really add a touch of grit to the mix.

One of the first things that you are going to notice is definitely the fact that the album has a warm and full-bodied sound. I feel like the high quality of the production really flatters the sound of the bands and allows them to express their musicianship and songwriting skills. This is particularly important for a band with such a nice progressive edge to their music. Not only is the great production awesome to capture the eclectic arrangements of this release, but also to channel the intimacy of their wonderful music.

From quiet to blistering all-out rock, “The Spell” is an exciting rollercoaster where different genres get blurry, combining chunky distorted guitar tones with amazing melodies and cool lead vocals. One of the most amazing songs on this release is definitely a track titled “Love,” which stands out as my favorite. This song tips the hat off to 90s alternative rock (Think Skunk Anansie or Guano Apes), but it also has a really distinctive prog-metal vibe, especially when it comes to the arrangements. The vocals are glistening beautiful, with lots of air and presence.

The group can also get nasty, with some insane riffage. “Burn” is a really good example of how this band can combine their aggressive edge with some amazing melodies and unique arrangement quirks. This song alternates melodic singing with amazing screamed vocals and cool tempo shifts – Makes me think of a cool jam session between Incubus and Porcupine Tree, with Omar Rodriguez Lopez overseeing.

And we really need to talk about those hurdy gurdy solos. Growing up and listing to a lot of medieval folk, sea shanties, and in my later years folk metal / rock, I’m as familiar with this instrument as most people would be the guitar. I never knew it could sound so brutal.

The band also knows how to create lush, simply beautiful textural music. Such is the case with “Sleep”, a song that almost feels like a lush, dark folk suite, where huge synth landscapes blend in with acoustic guitars and vocals, as well as big piano chords. I’m also really curious to see how a lot of these sing-along songs are going to play live.

Anna is on a completely different astral plane with her vocal abilities when compared to us mere mortals, and something I’ve always love to watch is crowds try to sing along to tracks like “Avalanche.” It ends up being an unintentional tongue twister for a lot of us, so I really want to see how something like “from rooOots to mooOons” will sound from the fans.

The band borrows from an in-depth musical library of amazing influences, from alternative rock, to post rock, soundtrack scores, some very subtle touches Celtic music, folk…the list goes on and on, and what’s super striking is that the combination of genres feels so organic and effortless, as if the songs had been conceived in a very spontaneous way.

Ultimately, The Spell and everything that went into creating it from the writing, the vocals, the musicianship, the production, the artwork, and the story concept was executed with perfection.

Final Score

Overall - 10

10

Perfect

Everything about The Spell is simply incredible. Calling it a perfect album almost seems like an understatement.

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