Leaves started budding on the trees here in February. In Pittsburgh. February. Nothing to see here, right guys? Anyway, it feels a lot like we were robbed of a winter around here. I have a bag of rock salt that’s been in my trunk since Thanksgiving, and there it lies. Unused. So, a season of retreat and getting a chance to burrow both mentally and physically never really happened because winter never arrived.
Luckily, the fellows who comprise new band Coldfells did not have that same experience. Or at least not to the same extreme. These Appalachian-dwelling musicians still have winter in their hearts, and their amazing first record, a self-titled affair, is a portrait of their introspection. Over five vast, spacious tracks that meld doom and black metal expertly, this band—vocalist/guitarist Aaron Carey (Nechochwen, End, Infirmary), bass/drummer/backing vocalist Andrew D’Cagna (Nechochwen, Obsequiae, Unwilling Flesh), guitarist Jonny Doyle (Plaguewielder, Horse Drawn)—cast their gaze on their wintry surroundings, appreciating the vast loneliness that many people see but also paying homage to the beauty of those surroundings that only are available maybe a quarter of the year. The music itself is a triumph, often grisly and dangerous, but always with heart-soaring melodies and powerful singing mixing with it, giving it both dark and light textures. It’s very much like the winter in that vein, and the music here is unforgettable.
“The Rope” is the stunning 10:26-long opener, which starts with pastoral keys before tearing open in atmosphere. Guitars reach out while the melodies gush, and the growls add another level of power to the thing. “Beneath the cruelest sun or under blackened sky,” is called, while the track trudges from there, moving into more reflective pools later. The final moments are stitched together by powerful lead guitars, rattling speed, and a final rush of sound. “The Sea Inside” trickles open before tearing apart. The band invests in pure savagery before pulling back and slowing down into monstrous doom. Clean singing bellows and spirits are high before calm interjects itself and spreads over a lengthy piece of terrain. Before it’s all over, the fire re-ignites, and the track comes to a chugging finish.
“All Night We Flew” unfurls slowly before the verses start thrashing, and grim growls mix with strong singing. The pace surges, as the vocals stand out as a highlight of the track, and guitars take off into a Southern bend, driven by slide playing. Everything from there is volcanic. “In Time Shall Be Forgotten” is downright vicious at the front end, with black metal-style playing cracking skulls. Then things grind into a slower death metal pace, with animalistic growls over the verses, and the band driving their picks into the earth. Reflective lines are sung about humankind’s tiny impact and presence when compared to the rest of the vast universe, and the track fades out in sunburnt guitars. Closer “Eons Pass” is goddamn epic from the start, as the singing punches your chest, and then ominous growls slide in as the track gets grittier. Organs spill, giving the track a spacey essence, while melodies bustle before things head off into the water. Quiet solemnity rears its head, settling your bones, before the track takes an evil turn, with destructive, threatening playing smearing madness before fading into the deepest woods.
We may not have the chance to bask in the majesty of winter any longer here on much of the East Coast, but the themes and journey woven into Coldfells debut record don’t necessarily have to be applied during that season. Any sojourn out into nature can be a perfect setting for absorbing this music, as it has so much to offer. This is one of the best debut records of the year so far, and it’s not going out on a limb to suggest this record will weigh heavily when we’re summarizing the best music of 2017.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/coldfellsdoom
To buy the album, go here: https://shop.bindrunerecordings.com/
Or here: http://shop.eihwazrecordings.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/
And here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/