Cave Dweller Music

Music from the Taiga: Day 4: Sixteen Cell – Scary Fairy Tales

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Artist: Sixteen Cell

Release Title: Scary Fairy Tales

Label: Independent

Release Date: 10 January 2022

Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Digital Price: 2 USD

Length: 34min 16s

Despite the chaos in the neverending pandemic, and the nightmare of politics and war that continues into 2022, independent artists on the streets of most any city are putting out great art to help us get through it all, and express our frustrations, hopes, and despires. To that point, there’s a lot of independent music in Saint Petersburg that’s worth your attention, and when it comes to great music releases, they have plenty.

One such release I’d like to bring to your attention is the latest from Sixteen Cell, a female-fronted blast of aggression straight out of Saint Petersburg, delivered through an audio brass knuckle to your face.

It’s always a hell of a time when you have a vocalist in a metal band who can do not just harsh vocals, but awesome harsh vocals. Harsh vocals are a dime a dozen in the metal world across a variety of its subgenres and styles. Skilful, great harsh vocals are not nearly as common. Sixteen Cell gives us that banging mix of power, emotion, aggression, and diversity that makes for top tier harsh vocals. The sort of nuances and skill in delivery that separate your average death metal cookie monster soundtrack from an inspiring journey through a realm not only of sound, but of mind. It’s the latter that we get in Scary Fairy Tales, and damn does it make for a good listen.

Tracks like Joker Jack give us some good contrasts of the harsh vocal styles on display here, juxtaposing deep, chesty growls with quite high vocal range screams and everything in between. There are also clean vocals occasionally appearing from track to track, and they are good enough, although it is certainly the harshness that really makes Scary Fairy Tales shine vocally.

For international listeners, there is also the added bonus of this album having lyrics primarily in English, although with the focus on emotion and aggression here you’re probably going to be too busy rocking out to really be concerned much with language. There’s some good stuff in there though with a variety of stories like Bad Wolf and Bloodlust that lend their own unique quality to the album, for the careful listener doing a close listen.

This is a release worthy of most any metal fan’s attention. Even the cover art should grab your eye, evoking an old-timey look with its art reminiscent of old 19th century boxwood block prints. But the mythological themes of Scary Fairy Tails are also called back to with the Harry-Potter-esque look of a wizard or alchemist’s laboratory, all sorts of dark and weird reagents occupying shelf space. The visual style is a sort of thematic tie-in with the album, but boy, you will not be prepared for the aggression that you’re about to witness.

Instrumentally there’s a great blend of genres here. Scary Fairy Tales is pretty out there really – it’s atmospheric and melodic at times, but at others harsh and dark with the blast beats one would expect from more extreme music. For the fans of progressive metal, there’s a good mixture of detailed mathcore, counter-rhythms and polymeter, along with a bit of melodic craziness along the way. It’s all brutal as hell throughout, regardless of how you want to think about Sixteen Cell’s sound, and it’s something that I sure as hell want to hear live someday.

With the great blend of aggression, fusion of genres, and instrumentality on display in Scary Fairy Tales, there’s a wide variety of elements that are brought together in a unique and cohesive package. There are different elements here that will stand out more or less to different listeners, whether it’s the progressive instrumentation, the sometimes djent-y sound, or the aggressive vocals. Scary Fairy Tales is an enjoyable listen that I can’t recommend enough, and one that keeps delivering on repeated listens.

I hope you enjoy Scary Fairy Tales.

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