Dalla Nebbia
Felix Culpa

Black metal has been getting run through the wringer lately with certain bands sanitizing it for the masses and some metal “journalists” using it as fodder for their hyperbolic clickbait writing. That’s partly the reason that I don’t review it often despite it being one of my favorite genres. There’s already too much talk about it out there, much of which is exaggerated controversy. So, I was a little hesitant to take on this sophomore effort from Dalla Nebbia described as “progressive black metal.” The involvement of two members from Mesmur — who surprised me with their highly accomplished debut of funeral doom early this year — is what convinced me otherwise. I just need to be careful not to overstate Felix Culpa’s eccentricities.

Although, this may not really be black metal at all, and my opening paragraph is moot. I guess it depends on whether Agalloch is black metal or not. The base of Dalla Nebbia’s sound is rooted in that same rustic, moody gray area that sometimes appears black, but sometimes does not. Further confounding the issue is a healthy dose of early Opeth. Even the vocals fall somewhere between the whispery rasp of John Haughm and Mikael Åkerfeldt’s more biting delivery on Orchid. The clean vocals scattered throughout are completely Agallochian, though. Then, there’s the warm, inviting production, which resembles that of early ‘90s Dutch death/doom. The guitars hum instead of bite and the violins courtesy of Sareeta, who has worked with bands like Borknagar, Solefald, and Theatre of Tragedy, further a resemblance to Celestial Season if they had turned black instead of stoner. It’s an unusual mixture, but not the kind that reeks of pretentiousness and handwaving.

After a somewhat whimsical intro, the first real track, “Until the Rain Subsides,” pretty much lays out everything that the album has to offer with melancholy melodies, layers of violins, and a nice build of aggression. The atmosphere somehow takes me back to autumn weekends at my family’s dusty, old cabin in the Appalachian mountains. This could be partially due to what I was listening back then…lots of gothic doom and fringe black metal like Algaion, Daemonarch, and In the Woods…, which could all serve as some other reference points for Dalla Nebbia. “Abandoned Unto Sky” ups the intensity with a heightened pace and frantic tremolo, but the album shines most when mixing that with equal amounts of gothic moodiness, which the majority of the tracks thankfully manage to do.

Between the production style and some rather unusual, lilting chord progressions, Dalla Nebbia have managed to create a unique sound without resorting to off-putting, incongruous weirdness. Obviously, this is not an album for purists, but it’s not part of the appropriation of black metal that seems to be so prevalent lately either. This is just a group of honest musicians making genuine music that happens to be out of the norm.

Now to post a link to this on Facebook and Twitter declaring it “the future of black metal.” That should gain me the attention I so desperately crave, right?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
December 7th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I don’t think there’s much debate over this being black metal. This is fucking great.


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