A dark and brooding distorted guitar sound opens up The Spell, the second full-length release from Swiss prog-folk-metallers Cellar Darling. 'Pain' makes for a strong opening song, and it just gets even better when the powerful vocals of Anna Murphy hit their peak in the song’s chorus, coming to an enjoyable climax with a more unique bowed string sound that solidifies the band’s grasp of their genre. It’s immediately noticeable already by the second song of the album that Cellar Darling are a band that know their strengths and what makes their sound unique, and they showcase it well.
'Love' is another track that stands out immediately as it is heard, with a low drone from the hurdy gurdy accompanying a subtle but effective vocal melody that carries the album on well. The more mainstream musical elements, namely the guitar and drumkit, are also not forgotten though; with both instruments launching into complex rhythms that work to draw in the listener as the lyrics carry along the story. As the album starts to reach its middle point, there is a slight lapse, however. The songs do start to feel like ballad after ballad, interweaving calmer verses with heavier choruses and breaks. But, whilst this is true, it’s something that fits their style perfectly; particularly the vocals. Towards the end of the album, the songwriting again becomes slightly more diverse, however.
Overall, The Spell is a very vocally-led album. The instrumentation plays a main role in driving this forward, but takes the back seat position in favour of the powerful vocals and lyrical melodies. The orchestral elements, just like the folk elements, also seem more of an afterthought in the background than a main part of the song-writing. This is slightly disappointing, as it’s unusual to see a hurdy gurdy played in a band that otherwise veers towards progressive metal, and it would be great to hear more of it (and other folk instruments in future releases). However, it’s still a strong sophomore release, and a highly enjoyable one to listen to, as the calmer and melodic 'Death Part II' brings the album to a close.
The Spell is out 22nd of March via Nuclear Blast