PICK OF THE WEEK: Felled create atmospheric vibe with folkish black metal on ‘Intimate Earth’

It’s a perfect time of the year to find music that relates to nature, or that makes your time surrounded by that world that much richer. As much as I love music that relates to winter and all the possibilities with it, there’s something about being able to breath fresh air and be amongst greenspaces that makes it feel like life is bursting and everything isn’t hopeless.

My first experience with “The Intimate Earth,” the debut record from folk-infused black metal band Felled, did not occur when I was in nature, but it didn’t take me long to feel like I was amid thick trees, human-made trails, and oxygen not sickened by industry. The more I listened, the more I realized I was completely overcome by this record, and that the band—guitarist/vocalist Cavan Wagner, violin and viola player/backing vocalist Brighid Wagner (both of Poet), bassist Isamu Sato (ex-YOB, currently of Omnihility), drummer/vocalist Jenn Grunigen (Cerridwen)—could transport me wherever, no matter where I was locked physically. It’s also just an amazing sounding record full of highs and lows, softness and heaviness, and heartfelt performances that just flatten you in the best possible way.

“Ember Dream” opens with guitars and strings merging, creating an interesting ambiance that immediately arrests. The riffs then unleash some darkness as the growls devastate, and everything sweeps you up in the drama. The drums crash, the violins come to life and exert energy, and all elements burn together, leaving ash behind. “Fire Season on the Outer Rim” stirs up some solid riffs, the strings surge, and mangling growls strike down, adding menace to the elements of beauty. Grunigen’s calls then haunt as the drama continues to unfold, slowly dripping before things kick back into gear. Emotions jolt as Grunigen’s vocals settle back in, the growls add uglier dashes of color, and the strings thicken, adding to the rustic aura.

“The Rite of Passage” has guitars trickling in as the strings sweep, and the guitar work dawns on the horizon. The track then bursts as the growls explode, turning vicious, and then the growls begin to pick you apart. Black metal-style guitars inject huge melodies, the growls destroy, and the powers increase before settling into the earth. “Sphagnum in the Hinterlands” is the longest track on here, running 10:58 and starting with guitars poking in before everything is just engorged. All powers align and rumble your core as the guitars crawl over you like long, spindly spiders, and a brief gasp of calm opens into animalistic fury. The strings come to life, the skies darken, and cold rains give away to massive horrors that get pushed into the winds. “The Salt Binding” is the closer, a 9:06 being that opens amid arresting strings and psychologically jarring guitars. Grunigen’s singing emerges again as an emotional toll is paid, guitars weep, and the melodies flood. The voices combine as one as the track bleeds with power, feeling like a bloody folk tale, pushing every one of your buttons. The guitars soar gloriously, the voices sound as if they’re chanting to the beyond, and the strings create a bed in which you lose consciousness.

Ever since my first experience with “The Intimate Earth,” I instantly feel in love with the music and the worlds created by Felled. It’s not like there aren’t other bands seamlessly combining folk and black metal, but this band does it with such charm and striking creativity, that it feels like their music lives in your bones. This is an excellent debut from a band that already has won over my undying devotion.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/felledband

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://transcendingobscurity.8merch.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://tometal.com/