Cellar Darling - 'This Is The Sound'
‘This Is The Sound’ isn’t a debut album. ‘This Is The Sound’ isn’t a comeback album. ‘This Is The Sound’ is a primer ready and waiting for its successor to perfect its formula. In fourteen tracks, Cellar Darling map out the beginnings of something rather special.
Originality8.3
Lyrics8.9
Replay Value8.7
Instrumentation9.2
Overall Impact8.8
We Liked...
  • It's ability to mix modern metal with a hurdy-gurdy
  • It's 'less-is-more' approach
  • The fact it's simply a wonderful listen
We Didn't Like...
  • The fact it's the primer before the real deal
  • It's deviant moments
8.8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
10.0

When you’ve spent the last twelve years or so of your life honing your craft and building your base in a band only to find yourself ejected from it is a feeling like no other, one that finds yourself sitting at the bottom of the rock in the deepest of bottles, facing sheer uncertainty at where your life is heading. For ex-Eluveitie member Merlin Sutter, whose bandmates Anna Murphy and Ivo Henzi left following his ejection from the band in 2016, it was a dark moment. However, it was soon filled with glimmers of light and flourishes of hope as the beginnings of what has become the trio’s musical awakening in the shape of Cellar Darling.

Stripping back the formula the trio helped craft so perfectly that morphed Eluveitie into the folk-metal monster it is to its bare bones, most notably in the shape of Anna Murphy’s most excellent mastering of the hurdy-gurdy, Cellar Darling revitalise all that they’ve known with a sound more akin to Evanescence than Eluveitie, dark-and-dingy riffs dwelling down deep as if they’ve come from a modernised nu-metal playbook.

This formula may or may not sound like an absolute shambles, but from the opening moments of their debut album ‘This Is The Sound’, Cellar Darling offer up an aural palette of revivifying pleasure. Opener ‘Avalanche’ creeps up on you like a thief in the night, as if you’ve been stalked like prey the entire night, exploding into chaos as rollicking riffs run riot against serious hurdy-gurdy grooves, as Anna Murphy hauntingly howls out ‘Avalanche’ over and over as if you’re trapped in a cyclone of beautiful proportions.

It’s important to illustrate here before we go any further that ‘Avalanche’ is the clear-cut highlight of the album, the tour-de-force and the peak of the potential that ‘This Is The Sound’ collects and curates, whilst the majority of the remainder rolls out as a fantastic debut, yet sparkles and shines with inklings of potential, as if they were simply curious to what they were getting themselves into and that they’ve got much more to come on the creative spectrum.

‘Challenge’ and ‘Hullaballoo’ are infectiously indestructible gems, the former packing one of the year’s finest choruses as you find yourself chanting ‘this is the sound this is the sound this is the sound’ whilst the latter feels as if it picks up from where nu-metal left off in the early noughties and reinvigorates it, think if an inhuman bartender mixed Evanescence and Amaranthe up into a cocktail of grandiose proportions, and threw in some traditional European folk for extra measures.

The hauntingly beautiful piano suite that leads you through Six Days is a misnomer, fizzling out instead of flourishing as the pace drops off the map and the music wanders off elsewhere, and yet this is one of the few, if not the only, moments ‘This Is The Sound’ drifts away from its success. Whilst admittedly its clear they haven’t settled on their sound yet, it’s the moments they play closest to their melody-musing mix of modern nu-metal and folk that they sound at home.

Lyrically, the record broods over life and death and everything in between, a compelling well of complex thoughts spun against a web of simplicity in the sense that less words are most certainly more. When they stray away to longer phrases, they are hauntingly sung effortlessly with such deliverance and passion its almost impossible to conjure up yourself, particularly when Anna Murphy muses: “fire was my faith, earth you were my truth, air you gave me life, as four we gave birth to the world.”

There are rare moments where Cellar Darling deviate entirely to lands unknown, drifting off particular on Starcrusher to a world where Gojira and Mastodon give birth to a wicked lovechild, tectonic riffs going to-and-fro throughout. Just another level of Cellar Darling’s ability to transgress across genres.

‘This Is The Sound’ isn’t a debut album. ‘This Is The Sound’ isn’t a comeback album. ‘This Is The Sound’ is a primer ready and waiting for its successor to perfect its formula. In fourteen tracks, Cellar Darling map out the beginnings of something rather special.

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