Review Summary: Dwarrowdelf rising
With a name like Dwarrowdelf and a D&D cover art you’re either going to get power metal, dungeon synth or melodic black metal. Lucky for me it’s the latter. I did try Dwarrowdelf’s previous album “Evenstar” but it didn’t stick. But that didn’t stop me trying this new album “The Fallen Leaves” and curiously was immediately drawn in.
Dwarrowdelf is the work of multi-instrumentalist Brit Tom O’Dell who also competently handles both clean and harsh vocals and has evidently stepped up the quality of this project’s output. Refreshingly he has a sense of humour as his Bandcamp page briefs Dwarrowdelf as “a one-man studio project from Southampton, UK, walking the utterly untrodden path of Tolkien-based epic metal”. The Tolkien themes in this release however have been eschewed for more poignant tales “of sorrow, struggle, and grappling with reality”.
The instrumental opener and the beginning of “The Journey to Dawn” has a Caladan Brood and Eldamar tone but that is punctuated with a clearer enunciation than found in those acts which allows a closer connection to be had. The olde melodies and passages carry through to the glorious “To Dust, We All Return” which splendidly marries all elements of folk inspired melodic atmoblack. It’s a genre close to me as the melodic guitars and synths with the double kick drumming is an undoubtedly powerful vessel.
“This Shattered World” is a heavier but no less exhilarating arrangement with tremolo picking that Mist of Misery could lay claim to, resulting in an album peak. Peaks abound in truth and there is not a second wasted in this tight 42 minutes. The epic adventure continues with “Escape from the Dreamspire” which gives space to both the clean and harsh vocal passages, between the swifter blackened metal parts. With an ear for highlight after highlight, O’Dell has composed a pretty damn impressive meloblack slab as single “Deliverance” attests in droves.
Varieties of styles and instrumentation pervades the release as there’s hints of melodeath, even a couple of deathcore blasts and the closing title track features an opening harpsichord and an electronic bridge amongst the central synths and melodic guitars sound.
These projects are simple pleasures and are gladly returned to like a home cooked meal. Unsurprisingly, admirers of Can Bardd, Elderwind, Dzo-nga and Ash of Ashes should find this an easy little February win.