Cellar Darling – The Spell review

Highly accomplished and as mysterious and beguiling as it is fresh, The Spell is a truly magical affair. 9/10

Cellar Darling

Formed in Switzerland in 2016 by three former members of the folk metal mammoth Eluveitie, Cellar Darling comprising of Anna Murphy (vocals, hurdy-gurdy, various other instruments), Merlin Sutter (drums) and Ivo Henzi (guitars, bass). Their debut album This Is The Sound is a more progressive and a lighter digest than the band from which the departed. Still firmly rooted within the celtic/ folk metal sphere there are elements of a pop sensibility and also darker progressive and space rock are added to the mix.

“With Cellar Darling, we deliberately didn’t set ourselves any limits – and that really enabled us to find the type of music that we wanted to play.” Merlin Sutter

“Our music stems from ideas that were kept hidden away in a type of creative cellar, and are now ready to see the light. It also visualises our music: the darkness is the cellar, and ‘darling’ represents something light and beautiful.” Anna Murphy.

Now Cellar Darling return with their second full-length album The Spell which has been designed to be consumed as a package. With teaser pictures being released with their titles on social media platforms, this beguiling artwork by the magnificent Romanian musician and artist Costin Chioreanu, consolidates the album concept while the audiobook regales a dark fairytale for the modern era through the engaging storytelling of Anna Murphy. The animated videos produced by Costin Choreanu are sublime and make for spellbinding entertainment.

The concept of The Spell came to Anna while hiking, an overarching tale of a young girl, birthed via pain into a world of pain which is being debilitated further by humanity. In search of answers, the young lady inadvertently meets with and falls in love with the most inappropriate choice imaginable and her haunting all-consuming, unrequited love takes both her and us, the listener on a mythological adventure of epic proportion.

Our fable commences, as most experiences do with Pain. The dulcet tones of Anna Murphy are a balm for the soul, in an almost Kate Bush-esque whimsy accompanied by an almost tribal backing, garnished with the exquisite and unusual tones of the hurdy gurdy. The handsome, yet apathetic Death comes upon us, somewhat unnerving with a primal power that is desperately attractive. Doomy and progressive, has death ever been so desirable? A flute led bridge dances over a commanding rhythm section in a beautiful segue that adds a magical lilt to an already otherworldy song. Somewhat disconcerting and very melancholic, with its syncopation hammering home the ups and downs of being in Love (with the darkness).

The Spell echoes ancient pagan rituals and enchantments, for what can be older than the magic of death. Eternal life will haunt you, never again will you look upon the face of death from this mesmeric track

Burn starts slow and heavy before picking up the pace and the more modern elements of progressive/ technical metal as fierce and unpredictable as the element on which it is based. Uplifting, with a disturbing sense of clarity and beauty Hang is especially poignant and haunting.

Sleep is usually a respite, and the pared back resonance of a delicately handled piano heavy on the sustain with the purity of Murphy’s voice certainly evokes a dream state. Beyond the melodies, there lies glimmers of unnerving fuzz, overdrive and space.

Insomnia was the first single to be released from the album and as such was the first to highlight the evolution of Cellar Darling. Heavier, with the expected ethereal vocals more intense and dripping with portent.  One, two, three, forever I will not sleep, never Five, six, seven, hate, lover! I will wait forever…  Opens this heavy and progressive beast. Undulating flute melodies disorient in a spiral that draws you into the frenzied heaviest hurdy gurdy solo of all time.

 

Cool with reverb, Freeze chills, before the thaw and subsequently pensive Fall. Drown with its gentle waves forms the call  of this siren, luring and lulling you to certain doom- (of the melodic and melancholic kind). A dark lullaby that allows you to sink, deep into the netherworld of proggy, heavy rock. Our oddyssey completes with a return to the earlier motifs of both love and death in Love Pt. II and Death Pt. II.

Highly accomplished and as mysterious and beguiling as it is fresh, The Spell is a truly magical affair.

Is the saviour of music the child born of Kate Bush and Tool in the dreamscape? 9/10

Cellar Darling - The Spell

Tracklist:

  1. Pain 4:27
  2. Death 7:14
  3. Love 5:11
  4. The Spell 4:41
  5. Burn 5:08
  6. Hang 4:33
  7. Sleep 3:48
  8. Insomnia 6:52
  9. Freeze 3:37
  10. Fall 0:59
  11. Drown 7:11
  12. Love Pt. II 5:01
  13. Death Pt. II 4:35

Tracklist:

  1. Pain (Audiobook Chapter) 2:05
  2. Death (Audiobook Chapter) 1:06
  3. Love (Audiobook Chapter) 1:23
  4. The Spell (Audiobook Chapter) 0:48
  5. Burn (Audiobook Chapter) 1:36
  6. Hang (Audiobook Chapter) 1:44
  7. Sleep (Audiobook Chapter) 1:30
  8. Insomnia (Audiobook Chapter) 1:46
  9. Freeze (Audiobook Chapter) 1:13
  10. Fall (Audiobook Chapter) 0:50
  11. Drown (Audiobook Chapter) 1:40
  12. Love Pt. II (Audiobook Chapter) 2:15
  13. Death Pt. II (Audiobook Chapter) 1:16

The Spell is out now and available for purchased through Amazon here

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