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Felled – The Intimate Earth Award winner

The Intimate Earth
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 24 May 2021, 6:49 AM

FELLED is an American black metal band from Oregon who formed in 2010 under the named MOSS OF MOONLIGHT before changing to FELLED in 2014. "The Intimate Earth," is their debut album but they also released a demo in 2017. The band includes folk elements in their music with the use of a violin played by  Tiffany Holliday. When I say this album has violin, I don't mean the instrument is scattered across on various sections. Tiffany's playing is integrated into the very fabric and soul of this album. It gets as much play time as any of the other instruments and, much like those, if the violin were removed, the songs would be changed greatly.

Tiffany's playing adds so many dimensions to this band and gives them an unique sound to my ears.  At the end of the day, FELLED are a black metal band—-and a damn good one at that. Their extreme sound is never dulled by the violin but instead enhanced with a touch of refinery and cascading, natural, beauty that most other BM bands just can't reach. Jenn's drumming is on point and her style works wonderfully with Tiffany's. They sound good too—her double bass and snare really caught my ears. The low rumble of the bass creates a perfect foundation for the band but especially gives the violin some legs to stand out.

Isamu on bass and Cavan on guitars round out these furious four. Idamu's bass isn’t buried under the mix despite all that is going on. His tone is warm and full, encompassing these sounds richly while hammering when needed or being melodic when called upon. Cavan is a well versed player, refusing to stick to black metal tropes of playing a thousand miles an hour with the same riff repeated over and over. His is a performance that is heavy yet diversified.

The first track "Ember Dream" features the guitars and violin has one as the folky sounds filled the ear with a rare maturity on the genre. The distortion hits in with the drums backing it all up. At this point, the song sounds chaotic but its still coherent for the listener—-this band has already honed their song writing skills that well. The vocals are a deep, blackened style with a slight echo on it. They fit in perfectly, sounding like lightning strikes in the forest as a destructive yet necessary force of nature themselves. As the song speeds up, the violin begins a more tragic style of playing before laying down some medieval type riffs. Do violins have riffs? Of course they do! I love all the drums are used to bolster the atmosphere especially in the last minute or so of the song.

"Fire Season On The Outer Rim," is immediate and very urgent. The entire band comes together for a rousing opening. The vocals are menacing here—like some sort of forest demon that woke up and cannot return to slumber until damage is done. The cadence of this song forces the head to bang and the frantic drums will surely call people into a mosh pit once shows return. Around the 2:40 mark, the song doubles down on aggression and exceptional clean vocals lead the song into a slower movement that is no less richly detailed.

"The Rite of Passage" begins with quiet, clean tones. This song is more laid back than the previous two but that also gives it some breathing room to be more introspective. The natural beauty of folk and metal elements blend so well in this song. The song explodes around the three minute make and it is adventurous with a unique, catchy fervor brought out by the interplay between the lead guitar and the violin. The last two and a half minutes show off the more blackened aspects of the band and it is hard to deny its power.

My favorite song on the album is "Sphagnum in the Hinterlands." Something about this song just really speaks to me. I can't quite put my finger on it but I played this one over and over. Perhaps it is the quiet intro that turns into a rumbling fury. Or maybe it's the deep violins that sound so beautiful yet sad next to the black metal craziness. The guitar riffs are among the best on the album and how they compare and also contrast to everything around them is a nice addition to the overall flow and feel of the song. The drums accent the rise and fall of the guitar and violin amazingly and show just how well put together this song is.

The haunting vocals in "The Salt Binding" make it stand out from the get go. The music intertwines so wonderfully; the song is one big fluid movement of sound and force. The guitar connects the song together with these jaunty, melodic passages. The last few minutes of the song is layered heavy with the vocals, giving it this ethereal feel of sorts. FELLED have released a truly outstanding album that perfectly melds the rawness of black metal with sophistication and rare grace for the genre.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Ember Dream
2. Fire Season on the Outer Rim
3. The Rite of Passage
4. Sphagnum in the Hinterlands
5. The Salt Binding
Jenn Grunigen - Vocals, Drums
Cavan Wagner - Vocals, Guitars
Isamu Sato - Bass
Tiffany Holliday - Vocals (Backing), Violin, Viola
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records


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