Out of sunny California emerges one of the most obscure-sounding Black Metal bands you are ever going to clap ears upon. This album is titled ‘untitled’ and has been unleashed on vinyl by Gilead Media – not a label you’d normally associate with BM, which makes the pure quality of the record all the more remarkable. ‘untitled’ comprises two lengthy tracks, each clocking in close to the 20-minute mark and both stunningly eclectic.
To be blunt, this is such an awesome LP that it puts most Black Metal labels to shame. Fell Voices sound like a rawer, more lo-fi, deeper-in-the-woods, darker-than-a gypsy-soul version of the rather-excellent Wolves In The Throne Room. Now, I love WITTR, but I always felt they ruined their sound by including female vocals in some passages, so I’m glad to report that we have none of that here. The result is a purer, more distilled and more organic slab of darkness, creeping out of the undergrowth, wrapping its tendrils around you and sucking you into the woodland void.
This album is perfect in every way. Each bit of distortion, the crackles and hisses, the drone and the feedback, every note and every beat and every breath in the vocal delivery – it has all been put in precisely the right place, resulting in a rumbling, rolling behemoth of harsh yet ambient Black Metal majesty. The vocals are so far in the background that I almost suspect the singer was in a different room (or building); the overall effect of the music is so distorted and ‘barely there’ sometimes that the producer was either a genius or simply didn’t exist. If there’s a better produced raw Black Metal album than this available, I’d love to hear it.
Proceedings rarely move above mid-pace. They don’t have to. The feel of the album is more sinister, menacing and genuinely dark than an avalanche of speed. It’s all about dynamic, balance and finding the right counterpoints. Fell Voices are masters of their art. This is the kind of shit you can’t practise or fake. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Fell Voices possess it in spades and this 180g record – which comes complete with a pin, patch and poster for all you nerds out there – is an utterly compelling volume of work, pieced together by master craftsmen.