Saturday 1 November 2014

Hornwood Fell - S/T (Album Review)

Hornwood Fell cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 23rd April 2014
Label: Avantgarde Music

Hornwood Fell – S/T - Listing

1. Cerqua
2. Tempesta.
3. Meca.
4. L’ira.
5. Mutavento.
6. VinterFresa part one.
7. VinterFresa part two.


Marco Basili – Guitar, vocals.
Andrea Basili – Drums.
Andrea Vacca – Bass.


It can almost be considered a tradition within the black metal sphere that bands release a long slew of demos, splits, and rehearsal tapes before getting down to the nitty gritty of a full-length slab. Vlad Tepes had such a great time of it that they simply never bothered to put out anything on a label at all, opting instead to independently release demo after demo, building up an underground following, until finally deciding that the most nonconformist act they could possibly do was to stop playing music as Vlad Tepes. That’s tradition for you, and it’s still as strong today as it was in ’96. Obviously no one forwarded that memo on to Hornwood Fell, whose first s/t full-length, released February 2014, comes at you as confidently as a band who has had all the time in the world to demonstrate how noxious and frost-bound they can be.

Hailing from Italy, this is a trio of musicians who have played with each other in many different projects before finally arriving at Hornwood Fell, so it makes perfect sense that they wouldn’t need to spend much time demoing material as most new bands would prefer. Instead, much like the music itself, cutting right to the chase was their modus operandi, and this 42 minute venture to the impenetrable heart of the forest is every bit as orthodox as anything I’ve heard from the abyssal depths of European black metal. If you want experimentation, you’d best see Mirai Kawashima, because this is as text book as it gets.

This bastard kicks off with absolutely zero warning, opener ‘Cerqua’ blasts into action with as little build-up as you put into pressing “play”. Immediately you’ll find yourself battered down by rapid, coarse drumming that will continue torturously for the duration of the record, very rarely letting up and never softening in timbre. ‘Tempesta’ thunders in after a short breather, delivering spiteful, despondent and monotonous guitar work save for moments of technical finger trickery here and there to shimmer over that ceaseless, breakneck percussion. ‘Merca’ follows on with much of the same venom, though a moment of acoustic discordancy catches you off guard, a sound that the band will make great use of over the rest of the record. The track ends in ghostly, opiate tones and ambiance before kicking into bizarre furor with ‘L’ira’, a track that once again collapses into divergent folk madness.

Mutavento’ and ‘VinterFresa part one’ assault you with one last sustained outburst of hostility, making use of every caustic riff, hammering beat, and pound bass line left in the band’s arsenal before ‘VinterFresa part two’ tells a gentle ode with forlorn guitar strings and the desolate snapping of forest ground underfoot.

Hornwood Fell’s first offering is a very static, atmospheric record that refuses to change in tone barring moments of intricacy that break it up into noticeable segments, and this approach is certainly befitting for a sound evoking images of nature and isolation. It will either have you hooked from start to finish, or its repetition will irritate you. Favouring speed and aggression over sheer weight, this is certainly for fans of the ‘second wave’ black metal that has defined the genre for the past 20 years. It’s a pleasing dose for the speed junkie, and hopefully a sign of good things to come

Words by Liam Doyle

Thanks to Avantgarde Music for sending me the promo to review. The album will be available to buy now

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