Artist: Fell Ruin
Album: Cast In Oil The Dressed Wrought
Label: Tartarus Records
Released: November 11th 2022
Location: Detroit, Michigan
You don’t see a lot of black metal out of Detroit, but Fell Ruin more than make up for that with Cast In Oil The Dressed Wrought, putting their city on the world map.
Pinning down the band’s sound is no easy feat, given that they take an avant-garde approach to black metal and bring in elements of prog metal, sludge, post-metal, and doom. This combination means that not only does each song sound different to the last, but each song itself contains vastly different segments. The average track length on the album is 6-10 minutes (aside from the short intro and interlude), allowing the band to take their time to develop and evolve their sound as each song unfolds.
Don’t get me wrong, this is by all means still a black metal album, that is immediately apparent at first listen. It is however more than simply a black metal album and it’s the band’s willingness to experiment and push boundaries that have helped it to break free from the shackles of classification. The other element that makes the album so unique is its use of contradiction and duality, creating a fine balance between immersive atmosphere and dizzying dissonance and between stunning beauty and unsettling horror.
Vocally the listener is hit with a raw shrieked and barked style that carries equal parts anguish and rage, a perfect balance for black metal. The band have expertly mixed and mastered these vocals for a huge amount of added variety. At times they’ll come across as faded and echoed, seeping through atmospheric instrumental segments, while at others they’ll hit full force at the front of the mix as things become more aggressive.
Instrumentally you’ll find everything from furious tremolo picking and blast beat driven segments to stunningly crisp clean toned guitar segments. Slow moving depressive doom passages give way to furious dissonant black metal assaults. Progressive spacey segments seamlessly break up the heavy, smothering intensity of the harsher parts of the release. The band do a fantastic job of balancing technicality, atmosphere, and aggression, allowing each to shine when the time is right with constant overlap.
Each instrument on the album is performed to perfection and has its time to shine in the mix. The guitar work is probably the most varied overall as far as tone and style goes. However, in regard to its position in the mix I would argue that the band do an incredible job or giving the bass an equal amount of spotlight. There are whole segments of this album where the bass takes the lead and helps to develop its captivating atmosphere. The drums are also impressively diverse, shifting from relaxed rhythmic patterns that develop atmosphere through to assaulting full on hammering.
I honestly couldn’t pick favourite tracks on this release, as each song has so many varied elements that parts of each have become my favourite moments on the album. What this means is that you’ll just have to listen to the full album to find the moments that I’m referring to.
Overall, this is one hell of a release and the more I listen to it the more I fall in love with it. I honestly think that if I had heard this earlier in the year there is a good chance that it would have ended up on my AOTY list. It definitely gets an honourable mention as one of the best black metal releases of 2022.
Listen to and order the album: