#Dwarrowdelf The Fallen Leaves

6 min read

Band: Dwarrowdelf
Album: The Fallen Leaves
Label: Northern Silence Productions
Release Date: 02 February 2024
Country: UK
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording

Epic Black Metal masters Dwarrowdelf return once again to deliver a new dose of fantasy-induced awesomeness. Taking inspiration in both their imagery and musical themes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” (the name of the band itself refers to the dwarven fortress of Moria), it is clear that the music is there to match the atmosphere of the legendary story, and they never failed to deliver exactly that. Their latest effort, The Fallen Leaves is no exception. A future genre landmark, the album features everything you would expect from the genre in terms of sound and aesthetic, all of them pushed to perfection. To the average black metal listener, this album, as well as the whole subgenre of epic black metal may come along as extremely cheesy, but to fans, this is nothing short of a delicacy. To put it simply, The Fallen Leaves could have been easily featured in the Lord Of The Rings movie soundtrack, and I am pretty sure there wouldn’t have been many complaints.

Just like in the name of the genre, the first thing to be noticed about this album is its characteristic epic quality, including the album artwork. The album has a narrative thread to it, almost, making the song feel like chapters in a story.

The album starts out with a short synth intro track titled Within the Ashes, the Ember Still Burns, which gives the listener a first taste of the album’s storylike atmosphere. It is calm, yet brimming with anticipation, that slowly builds up the tension, ready to be unleashed

The first actual on the album is The Journey to Dawn, which sets the groundwork for what there is to come. The song gives us a pretty accurate taste of the album as a whole, featuring dreamlike synth passages that accompany the melodic, almost glorious riffs, drumming that feels like wind blowing through your hair, and one of the most beautiful acoustic passages accompanying the whole thing. The vocals are more melodic death metal style, a far cry from the high-pitched screeches of classic black metal. It is a composition that exudes hope, and longing, the perfect start for any story. A clean vocal chorus towards the end, along with a beautiful guitar solo, ends everything on a high note.

To Dust, We All Return, continues, this time with a slight tinge of nostalgia that complements the previously described feeling of longing masterfully. It is found in the guitars, the accompanying background instruments, the much slower rhythm, and the more ominous atmosphere, that still never fails to maintain its trademark touch of epicness, which comes in shining, in the form of a breathtaking, anthemic clean vocal passage. There is a lot of tempo variation featured in the song, which gives it a really interesting hint of complexity and helps highlight the thought put into the songwriting process. However, my favourite part of this song is the lead guitar riffs. Masterfully composed, and full of emotion, they are truly the highlights of the song, those details which truly make it shine.

This Shattered World comes up next, maintaining the more tense elements of its predecessor while merging it with the glorious atmosphere of the first track. This ends up being one of the heavier songs on the record, the focus being more on the vocals, which are now relying on a more frequent use of extreme techniques, as long as the instrumentation is rather closer to trademark black metal standards, while also fitting perfectly into the musical context. Having mentioned previously that this album has an almost storylike structure, it is easy to notice the fact that this song in particular carries strong narrative elements, making it feel like part of the main body of the tale being told. All of this is beautifully wrapped up by the background synth, the main epic element of the composition, littered with beautiful, intricate sequences, as well as more constant passages. And the guitar solo at the end is the cherry on top.

Approaching the album’s climax there is Escape From The Dreamspirean intricate song, containing a distinctive note of mystery, newly added to the record’s sound. In terms of sound, it is rather close to This Shattered World, although there are several key differences to be found. There is a lot more variation present, both in terms of rhythm and music in general. The extreme vocals are alternated with clean ones, classic tremolo riffs are blended with slower, more epic ones, and the drumming flows in between slow and high-paced tempos. It is a particularly balanced composition, that still retains a certain element of pursuit and longing in terms of the feelings it induces. It makes you feel and hear that there is something big coming up, and it does so in a truly beautiful and intriguing way. There are multiple instances within the song when elements such as the harp and the acoustic guitar make appearances, all adding to the musicianship of the man behind this project.

Reaching the pinnacle of the album, Deliverance is all that its predecessor has been anticipating musically. It takes all there is to be found on previous songs, blending everything together in something that I can call a ballad of greatness and glory. The harsh elements are perfectly balanced with the epic ones, elevating the composition. It is one example of a perfectly crafted epic black metal song, an excellent take on all the best parts of the subgenre, with a modern edge, yet still maintaining that feel of the older bands, like Summoning. All in all, it solidifies the album as being its own thing, distancing it from the tons of generic ones that are found throughout the subgenre. My favourite part of it all it’s clearly the ending, flowing so beautifully, in such an epic manner, before being interrupted by an unexpected breakdown like drum fill, for it to succumb, finally, to silence.

Closing up the album, The Fallen Leaveswraps up the musical journey on a hopeful tone, with an undoubtedly optimistic atmosphere. One problem that I have with this particular song, however, is the fact that it seems to be taken from a completely different album. It sounds more like a melodic death metal song than it does a black metal one, and it sort of fizzles out the built-up atmosphere of the songs behind it. There are, of course, sequences that tie it to the overall musical line, but they aren’t enough to make it fully make sense in the given context. It is not a bad song by any means, it is just that a different take could have held more advantages. However, it is without a shadow of a doubt, my least favourite on the record, although the second half of the song holds vast improvements from the first.

This album is not for everyone. Epic black metal is a niche subgenre for a reason. However, for those looking to get into it, and for the fans who have still not crossed paths with Dwarrowdelf, this is for you. 9/10 Ioana



9/10 Epic Storm
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