Released by: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Anna Murphy: vocals, hurdy gurdy, multi-instrumentalist
Ivo Henzi – guitar, bass
Merlin Sutter – drums
02. Black Moon
05. Six Days
06. The Hermit
08. Fire, Wind & Earth
10. Under The Oak Tree…
11. …High Above These Crowns
For those who expect to hear a second Eluveitie, think again. Cellar Darling, the name itself for a band, is rather off-putting. However, we were all taught at some point to never judge a book by its cover. Therefore, their debut album had to be reviewed and given a fair judgment. These now, Swiss rockers who call themselves “the new wave of folk-rock,” was once part of the folk metal act Eluveitie. It was around this time last year when former Eluveitie members Anna Murphy (vocals, hurdy-gurdy), Merlin Sutter (drums) and Ivo Henzi (guitar/bass) parted ways from the group. We aren’t going to sugarcoat; this news was rather devastating to hear. However, life is all about evolvement and change, whether we embrace it or not, it is inevitable.
The trio created a new beginning for themselves by forming the unique project. It is referred as the spirit of musical innovation with combined influences ranging from folk to classical. The group’s mission is: “the reinvention of folk tales for our modern age as the very essence of what they once were.” Their lyrics come from old bedtime stories from their parents involving myths, legends, love, to war, poverty and the daily adventures of the human spirit. They wanted to unleash these emotions, and roughly one year later, ‘This Is The Sound’ arrived on June 30th via Nuclear Blast.
The album begins with “Avalanche,” entering a danceable and catchy tone, reminding one of a Lindsey Stirling song. As it progresses, it works its way towards a haunting and yet-Celtic trance mixed with repetitive vocals. Darker guitar riffs explode during “Black Moon,” while the dynamic vocals introduce an engaging melody. There is a balanced combination of strings, percussion, vocals and electronics making it seem more experimental than structural. A Celtic landscape is heard in “Challenge,” as the song is about the inner struggle between yourself and the world. Think Lizzy Borden’s “Me Against the World,” however, you are searching for a new strength with folk melodies rather than eighties hair-glam.
The fourth track, “Hullaballoo,” is slightly all over the place but, in a right way. Parts of it will remind the listener of an earlier Blackmore’s Night and others would bring back old sounds from Drain STH as the enchanting melody moves with soothing guitar strings that guide a harmonic variety. The next track, “Six Days,” profoundly moves by the lyrics. It is as though it is sharing an apocalyptic-like story with words such as, “hold on to a fraction of your sanity,” reminding the listener not to forget your humanity even when the world dissipates.
Musically, things move towards a more pop-friendly style with “The Hermit.” Parts of it will remind the listener of an Anna van Giersbergen era of the Gathering; however, there are a few heavier elements as well, maintaining an edgy style. Things cool down with “Water” as the slow endearing tune flows nicely with dark ambiances and whispers. It is the shortest track but introduces the heavier and dramatic song, “Fire, Wind & Earth.”
As the album approaches its final leg, we enter into a zombie-like realm with “Rebels.” The keyboards move like a John Murphy film score, especially from the 2003 film ’28 Days Later.’ It is one of the strongest tracks as it spirals with a naturalistic harmony. Things move from zombies towards a serene-like romance with “Under the Oak Tree,” and the slow-moving pace helps set the tone for the next, “High Above These Crowns.” It kicks off with a dark haunting ambiance and dips into a melodic track, just in time for the progressive Celtic tune, “Starcrusher.” With two songs left off the album, “Hedonia” adds more of a traditional sound than modern with gorgeous vocals and chanting-like melodies and this softness continues into the final tune, “Redemption.”
For a debut album and introducing a different style, ‘This Is The Sound’ is the perfect title for it. The record is filled with experimentations and creative risks. While a few of these creations work, some felt too repetitive. However, there’s a lot of potential for a second album, and this is just the beginning of the trio’s new Cellar Darling chapter.
Written By, Zenae Zukowski