Review Summary: A solid debut from an atmospheric black metal band that has better days to come.
Fell Voices and Ash Borer are two bands that can be seen in pretty much the same light. Up until their split album in the year 2010, nobody really knew who either band was. Each respective band is from the California area of the United States, not really the place you think of when you think of black metal. However, they have shed some light upon all fans of atmospheric black metal and this album, Fell Voices' 2009 debut full-length, is a prime example. While it's not anything original and has been heard many times before when it comes to atmospheric black metal, Fell Voices are still a very talented up-and-coming band and their work has shown that they have better days to come.
One thing about this album is that it's only two songs and clocks in at just under 40 minutes. The first track, As Air to Flame, So Time to Oblivion, is almost 19 minutes long and the second track, To You I Call, That I Better Know My Solitude, is a few seconds over 21 minutes. Now to some people, this might not sound appealing at all. If you get turned off by long, repetitive songs, then this album isn't for you. As I sort of touched on earlier, Fell Voices opts for the more atmospheric and even drone-esque type of black metal. That means slow, repetitive riffing that is meant to put you in a trance, and the band definitely succeeds in doing that. There's also parts where they slow it way down to give you just pure ambiance, take for example about 9 minutes into the first track. Drumming here is very slow and doom-like as well. That's where the drone aspect comes in. There's some faster, blast beating parts, but for the most part it's just slow and agonizing. At the same time, the drums are technically proficient. Drumming reminds me a lot of the work from Panopticon. An example of that can be found around the 5-6 minute mark of the second track. Even some sound effects are put into use, such as birds chirping and rain falling. Anything to create that "Cascadian" atmosphere that they're going for.
The part about the album that holds it back from being a 4 is the vocal department, which is pretty insubstantial and absent. When the vocals do come along, they're very much distorted and in the background, similar to bands such as Xasthur and the aforementioned Ash Borer. Very well done when you hear them, but yes they're buried underneath everything else and to be honest, there's not a lot of vocal work on the album. Most of the time it's just the guitars and drums going and the vocalist kind of just shows up during a few parts of the album. That doesn't take anything away whatsoever from the quality that the instruments present, but if you like vocal work in your metal, like I do, then you may be disappointed by the lack of vocals here.
This isn't the best material that this band has put out. Their work on the Ash Borer split as well as their most recent release, which is the 2010 Tour CD-R
, showcases better the skills of this band. With that being said, this was only their debut and they have shown that they're only taking steps forward from here. Still, this is a quality atmospheric black metal album for a debut. If you're one for being put in a haze and sort of losing yourself in the music and the instrumentals, then this is an album that you'll definitely want to pick up. There are plenty of fantastic riffs throughout and technically, Fell Voices succeeds in doing what they want to do with this album and that's all that matters.