The first sign of Fellwarden was their 2017 debut album “Oathbearer” and now we get “Wreathed in Mourncloud” - an album with maybe the best name in a long time. The homophone in “Mourncloud – Morn’ cloud” is certainly no incident because the record is said to be the result of many wanderings in the Lake District in Northwestern England, where rain and clouds are not uncommon. Sometimes, the use of the keyboards and the slowly trickling melodies on the black and whites remind one of the brittle showers there.
Generally this is really apparent: The Watcher’s focus with this project is to create a mood, not simple straight “go for it”-black metal. An example would be the interlude “A Premonition” with its organ-like ambient spaces, its miniature keys and only very hushed up tombs in the background. If one expects the following title track to start with a heavy blastbeat or aggressive riffing, that is wrong. The Watcher uses a simple acoustic guitar laid over a warm synth part to slowly lead into the song, like the rays of sunlight trying to fight their way through the clouds, and only after a minute those rays are beaten down by a torrent of wind sweeping across the landscape. That track then, is the first one of three long tracks to end the record and a good example of how the songs are being wound up and slowed down whenever it seems appropriate. It uses a lot of tempi changes and sometimes seems on the verge of breaking down. Here the drums definitely play an important role, as Havenless is not blasting away into eternity but is keeping the speed high but never exuberantly fast. One can feel the wind and the rain pounding against one’s face.
Another important factor is The Watcher’s vocals which are sometimes laid over each other, resulting in some chant-like quality and then is reminiscent of some Ruins of Beverast-songs. The clean parts have that certain melodic quality that is quite unusual in black metal. I do not want to call it pop, but it has a great quality and can definitely purvey lots of meaning and atmosphere.
The Watcher and Havenless once again prove that Northern England is an awesome place for good, melodic black metal with a lot of atmosphere, some remarkable vocals and good songwriting!