|FOR FANS OF: Post Black Avantgarde|
'My Body, My Time' is the third effort from the Italian black metal band Hornwood Fell and it is, indeed, a very surprising record. From the artwork itself, the whole release becomes interesting, but the music and the compositions make it a solid record that creates a unique sound. Hornwood Fell started as a black metal band with its roots nailed deep in the Norwegian black metal movement of the early 90's, evoking bands such as Ulver, Burzum, Satyricon and even Darkthrone, that style was captured in a fantastic way in their first record. But now things have changed, and they changed for good.
When I listened to the album for the first time, I was very surprised by the fact that there are no harsh vocals or grim screams in the record, it is a risky step for a black metal band, but their choice works. It seems that the band found a new way to express their ideas, keeping true to their art and genre. It is possible to understand this evolution listening to their previous album 'Yheri' and more specifically to the final song of the record, “Them”, which is a progressive and technical song starring clean vocals only, it is a fine piece of work, very enjoyable, and now the whole new album is like that.
With their third record, Hornwood Fell bet on a new path in their music, this one takes a more post-black metal sound than a progressive one, but is still aggressive and raw. In general, 'My Body, My Time' has a great production and it is superbly mixed, especially the bass guitar, which is in the middle of everything, can be heard and followed in every moment and on each song. I love the way the drums sound, it is dense and powerful. At times the vocal performance is brilliant and melancholic, but in a few moments, the music demands more aggressiveness. Take “The returned” for example, the first song of the album: it is dark and gloomy yet fast and hostile, the vocals, at first, are a perfect element mixed with the music, but at the end of the same song, you get a potent guitar riff and a blasting drum performance which call for a horrifying scream to get the whole idea, but it never comes. Nevertheless, when you get used to the vocals, it is possible to enjoy the music and to understand their new approach, and if you ask me, I can say that it is original and risked.
The highlight of the album is the music structure and the compositions; every song has its own ideas and elaborated variations, although the first songs start as a typical black metal song: with furious tremolos and blast-beat drumming. This time the drums shine as a complex element ever-changing. The strings work is delightful; the melodic passages are psychedelic and heartrending.
“The Livid Body” is a terrific anthem that involves every aspect of the new sound with elegance and superiority; it starts with a psychedelic violent riff inducing madness and distress, after a while it gets more speed just to make way to the clean vocals and a change of pace, drowning the thoughts into desperation. After that, a more optimistic riff brakes in, but it is brief and ethereal, unforgiving the song keeps changing and the vocals are declaiming more than singing, creating a dark atmosphere. Finally, clean guitars surprise our ears and a post-rock melody ends the agony.
But, by far, the best song on 'My Body, My Time' is the last song, “Hidden Land”: it sounds like a black metal song, it has a post-black metal structure, technical guitars and a brutal drum line. Furthermore, it transmits its mood and ambience with perfection, crafting the new style of the band. Here in particular, the vocals are really fitting, mournful chants set an epic feeling at the beginning, then they evolve to a Bathory Quorthon’s style. The ambience is the key in this song, and even the music sounds purple — in a figurative way —, representing the artwork. It ends abruptly enough to make you want to listen to it again.
'My Body, My Time' is a solid and interesting record, one you would likely listen over and over again and you would keep finding new riffs to enjoy, definitely a record that will stay with you. Nevertheless is not perfect, a really good album, but the lack of harsh vocals and typical black metal screams could be disappointing for some listeners, besides that, at times the vocal effort sounds like a more hardcore style or a post-metal vocal style, which steals strength to the final result, this would have been something totally different with the proper black metal screams, but the band is exploring new horizons. (Alejandro "Morgoth" Valenzuela)
(Avantgarde Music - 2017)