Just like its cover implies, listeners will drown in the cold, dark sonic waters of Cold Fell‘s menacing, blackened debut, Irwell.
Hailing from Manchester, Cold Fell deliver a truly malevolent work of black metal that is as sprawling and abrasive as the mountain their name is derived from, as well as the environment of which they are a product of. With its tinges of death and doom metal, Irwell crafts a suffocating aural atmosphere in which listeners are enveloped by its encompassing darkness.
The 40-minute effort is bookended by two massive, nearly nine-minute tracks that relentlessly crush, both with sheer metallic weight and doomed atmosphere, and serve as the album’s most standout moments. “Skull Crushed Against Salford Cobblestones” opens up the record with lurching, dissonant doom riffs that gradually introduces the listeners to the raw and evil world of Cold Fell. The doom and gloom eventually gives way to a blitz of tremolo-picked malevolence and a myriad of cavernous, specter-like vocals that screech and growl with lyrical venom. The blackened assaults shift from the traditional, frostbitten attacks to more crusty, groove-laden bombardments during the song’s midsection, only to climax with a barrage of death-addled fury.
“Dream of Seppuku” closes out the record on the high note, immediately throttling listeners with an onslaught of hellacious black metal. The guitars shred the listener to bloody bits with their raw, blistering riffs that never skimp on melody or disemboweling death metal when they are needed. This seemingly endless storm of metallic madness briefly subsides for a short, but haunting clean-guitar interlude that then plummets the listener back into high octane chaos without warning. Soon after the blackened rampage morphs into a lengthy death-doom funeral dirge that marches alongside melancholic piano until the song’s hopeless conclusion.
The meat of the record is no cakewalk for the listener either as the band indulges in more and more blackened destruction. “Bone Ceiling” expertly weaves together the band’s black and death metal influences into a cacophonous, groove-laden monstrosity rife with bellowing low-end and tremendous blast beats. “The Whip (Armed to the Teeth)” delivers its own brand of auditory punishment with its sludge-ridden intro, skin-shredding tremolo-picking and dissonant crawls, all of which collide head-on to create one of the heaviest cuts on the record.
But unfortunately Irwell falls a bit short during its midsection. Here the songs tend to rely heavily on their black metal influences, creating some rather run-of-the-mill moments that are derivative of one another. They are not bad songs by any means, but they are nowhere near as dynamic as the other cuts on the record and not quite as memorable.
Though Irwell is not revolutionary by any means, it is definitely a step in the right direction for the band. When the band’s death-tinged black metal blend works, it is a maelstrom of devilish sound that will entice any fans of black metal. It may not “reinvent the wheel”, but it sure as hell utilizes the wheel well.
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Label: Argento Records
Favorite Tracks: “Skulls Crushed Against Salford Cobblestones” and “Dream of Seppuku”
For Fans Of: Woe, Wiegedood, Verowoed and The Ruins of Beverast