Metal and Folk go back decades. From the inception of the genre in the 1960s, folk literature and myths became a staple across a variety of Metal genres with their fantastical themes and imaginative escapism. However, the sonic and musical marriage of Folk and Metal is very different from those lyrical thematics both genres now share. Some amongst the Metal community would argue that the inclusion of ancient instruments such as panpipes, fiddles, and flutes makes the music sound corny and cliché and thus diminishes the aggressive nature of the metallic component of Folk Metal.
Cellar Darling’s The Spell (Nuclear Blast) challenges such notions head on.
With the band being comprised of former members from Folk Metal legends Eluveitie, a certain lineage is already bestowed on this group from the outset. However, Cellar Darling is far from a mere shadow of their former band: Their interpretations of the genre are done in a very different way and articulated in a more thought-out fashion.
Their debut album This Is The Sound briefly showed these qualities but The Spell makes tremendous headway on the ground they’ve already made.
Some Folk Metal bands can put their non-traditionally Metal elements front and centre but in a novel type of way instead of blending it into the composition. On the flip side, however, there is also a trend where a band can create a typical Metal song and add non-traditional elements as an afterthought and the musicality of such decisions is questionable.
Cellar Darling shows a mature and calculated approach to the blending of Folk and Metal genres: their sound is built with traditional instruments in mind, instruments which are treated with equal importance compositionally. Songs like ‘Love’, ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Death’ showcase the breadth of sonic appliance of these folk elements ranging from ballads to faster and heavier tracks where the compositions are thoroughly thought out and don’t ride on musical novelties.
Besides the Folk touches, a variety of other influences are incorporated in The Spell and is nothing short of impressive. In particular, taking Prog notes from the likes of Opeth and Dream Theater, the band constantly challenges the listener with intricate twists and turns which shakes up the preconceived notions and habits set by other Folk-inspired Metal groups. They also take the risk of presenting an album with songs which have two parts at opposite ends of the album. This pays off as the tracks are not compositionally similar and offer a clever musical contrast to their namesakes.
Cellar Darling has transcended boundaries with The Spell. This intoxicating mixture of genres sets the band apart from many of their peers and proves that, when done effectively and with musicality in mind, traditional elements can blend beautifully with contemporary musical genres … especially Metal.
7 / 10