Back in 2017 Cellar Darling burst onto the scene with a blistering debut album that I felt was one of the best debuts of all time. While we expected something special from the band that was made up of Anna Murphy, Merlin Sutter and Ivo Henzi (who had all just departed Swiss outfit Eluveite) nobody quite expected an album as good as This Is The Sound.
With such an amazing album under their belt a lot of fans have found themselves counting down the days until their next release (me included). Now it has arrived in the form of The Spell and while again the trio have created an awesome album it is perhaps a little different to what a lot of people might have expected from them.
Upon the first listen to the album you realise that the folk infused hard rock of the first album has now turned into a more folk inspired prog rock sound that certainly serves up a few surprises only the one. To be honest it was with baited breath that I waited to see if there was even going to be any folk sounds on this album at all because opening track ‘Pain’ kicks off in a spectacular guitar heay way and for most of the track there is no trace of folk at all – instead it almost borders on a sound that is more familiar to fans of Within Temptation.
It is very obvious that Cellar Darling want to use The Spell as an album that sees them experiment with their sound a little. ‘Death’ sees the band forge a dark and foreboding presence and at times the instrumental side of things seem to dip into a strong doom influence. That doom sound also returns later on the album with ‘Drown’. Even the vocals switch around the lot with a tracks like ‘Love’ and ‘Burn’ see Murphy sing like an angel while the title track has Murphy crooning while the lyrics ‘death is my name’ again brings a darkness to the track.
The proggy side of Cellar Darling comes out to play with ‘Hang’ delving back to the band’s folk side as the lyrics explore the story of a bird with a broken wing while the music sounds like it could have been sampled from a music box. There even seems to be traces of artists like Tori Amos and Paula Cole on the album with slowed down alternative tracks like ‘Sleep’ and ‘Death Part II.’ That slower alternative sound also raises its head on ‘Insomnia’ which at times also sees the band return to their heavier elements as well.
While this album does take a little while to grow on you the darker side of the band is something that is well worth a listen. While lyrics like somebody cutting their own throat (which can be heard on ‘Love Pt II’) may scare off some people, it will be embraced by serious music lovers that enjoy well written, poetic songs.
While this might be an album that takes a few listens to before it is fully understood The Spell is ultimately an album that sees a band that is willing to take chances and ones again reveals what an amazing band Cellar Darling really are.