Felled
The Intimate Earth

In theory, I should have been all over this release, the debut from Oregon’s Felled (formerly known as Moss of Moonlight). It’s Cascadian, atmospheric black metal with a violin. Not an occasional violin, but like My Dying Bride, Exulansis or Hung, a full-on, full-time, violin, courtesy of Tiffany Holliday who along with some of the other band members also serves in Poet and Wēoh. And at times, it’s really mesmerizing, enjoyable stuff, but at times, it’s just a bit too murky and muddled.

Let’s get the negative out of the way first as there is some really cool stuff to get to on the positive side of things. It really boils down to the production, or mix or master or whatever. Because when the band attempts a more rolling, tremolo-picked blast beat or double bass part, the drums simply overwhelm everything and make for a bit of a muddy mess where you can’t really tell if it’s a blast beat or not. For example in the opener “Ember Dreams”, or parts of “Rite of Passage” and moments in some of the other songs.

However, when the band is a little more mid-paced or even fill on doomy, and along with the haunting, violin, it’s pretty fucking cool. Whether it’s the cool little jaunt at the 3:25 part of “Ember Dreams”, the start of “Rite of Passage”,  or the superbly rending doom gait that appears in “Fire Season on the Outer Rim” and the superb, rending, closer “The Salt Binding”, where clean female vocals add to the aura of both magnificently. The album’s longest cut, “Sphagnum in the Hinterlands” has one of those indefinable blast beats, but also has some wonderous somber violin moments to offset it somewhat.

Overall this stylistically will appeal to fans of most of Bindrune’s catalog (in fact I immediately wondered why TOR released this and not Bindrune) or the now-defunct Minneapolis act False, as there are some very cool moments on the album, but I wonder if these guys are more suited to a neofolk/doom sound than black metal?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 16th, 2021

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