Fell Voices
Regnum Saturni LP

I believe to be a truly great band / artist; you absolutely have to be great at performing live. I want to see them and be absolutely floored that someone could take an album I love, and turn it into something transcendent that is not just heard, but experienced. Murder By Death (who, despite the name, are absolutely not metal at all) is one of the better bands at this I can think of. They take their sound, which I adore, and craft it into something BEYOND listening live. If you’re a fan of the band, and haven’t seen them, do so. It’s wonderful.

Now in stark contrast, another favorite of mine, Burzum has never and will never play live. Call me a hypocrite if you must, but Varg is a truly great artist regardless of this fact. But I’m such a fanboy when it comes to Burzum that I almost want to discount my own opinion.

Fell Voices takes the sound that was pioneered and perfected by Burzum, honed by countless others, popularized more recently by Wolves In The Throne Room and all their other Cascadian (fuck I hate that tag) brethren, and completely devour it. Everything Fell Voices has done has been golden. Truly one of my favorite Black Metal acts to come out in years. I hate the fact that I’ve never had the opportunity to see them live, though I have watched the videos I could get my hands on. I hear they are a tour de force. A whirlwind of atmosphere and intensity rarely matched today. No flash, no fog, no hype, just 3 musicians giving everything they have to the moment. You can’t ask for anything more, and why would you? So, all of this preface leads to where?

Fell Voices decided to record their very first officially titled full length Regnum Saturni completely live, and manage to absorb every last ounce of that intensity they are purported to perform with. Fully realizing their most hypnotic and engrossing material to date, Fell Voices destroys the competition. Long, sweeping passages of tremolo picked Black Metal furor, bookended by modulated harmonium for intros and outros, and distant chasmal cries are blended seamlessly to create what I truly can’t imagine won’t be my favorite Black Metal record of the year.

Regnum Saturni opens with “Flesh From Bone” and the aforementioned modulated harmonium drone. It is hollow and detached, at the same time present and distant. Two minutes, then a barely intelligible sample, some feedback, and the trio come surging forth with a whirlwind riff and blast beat. Long passages of the repeated ritualistic riff is a cornerstone of Fell Voices sound, and it is accomplished here in spades. Though “Flesh From Bone” is 17:35 long, it feels like a quarter as long as you get washed onto its shore by wave after wave of atmosphere and sincerity. The harmonium makes a short appearance before disappearing behind the next bombardment of blast beats and octave swirled miasma. We cycle through this world until with two minutes left; we are left with the harmonium that underpins the entire album. If feels like it’s always there and only gets buried by the ferocity. It really makes Regnum Saturni feel like a whole.

“Emergence” takes the same harmonium, layers it with just the guitars until 3 minutes in when the band kicks in at full speed and begins a further 17 minute journey into the abyss. Tempos shift seamlessly, riffs of differing though similar texture progress, until with 3 minutes to go, the guitars begin to echo away and we are left again with the tidal pull of the harmonium. It slowly disappears, only to return with a slight tremolo effect for the intro to the near 22 minute “Dawn.” Swells of single note picking dance in and out, highlighting and complementing the drone. Distortion, drums, and foreboding set in until the 5:30 mark where the cacophonous Black Metal onslaught begins again. Melodic yet atonal, soothingly repetitive, pained screams echo behind the relentless blitz of blasting. We shift focus and tempo again and again until not even the harmonium remains, only distant echoing shouting signals the end. The 61 minutes are over, and all you want them to do is start over again.

I’m sure this album has seen its share of reviews already, and if you’re here, you’ve probably read others. This is a triumphant moment in a short career that has seen this band grow from promising upstarts, to the kings of the realm. Don’t be surprised if this is as good as it will ever get from Fell Voices, and don’t be surprised if it isn’t.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick E
June 17th, 2013

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