Fellwarden – Oathbearer – Album Review
FELLWARDEN «Oathbearer» 85%
Fellwarden has been formed in 2014 and consists of a side project orchestrated by The Watcher, frontman of the superb entity that is the band Fen. Joined by fellow Fen member Havenless on drums, The Watcher shines at all fronts, handling all other instruments and vocals. The result is a debut album called «Oathbearer», released on Germany’s Eisenwald Records in 2017. A pure treasure of Atmospheric/Epic Black Metal, «Oathbearer» fully captures the misanthropy and emotions to be felt when embraced by England’s foggy and stormy nature, amongst majestic landscapes. The United Kingdom Atmospheric Black Metal scene has been flourishing over the last decade, with Fen and Winterfylleth holding the torch, accompanied in their quest by more underground acts like Wodensthrone (unfortunately defunct), Saor and Fuath (the last two hailing from Scotland). Fellwarden is a welcomed addition to the fold and forges its place among those leaders.
An album that will take you on a superb spiritual quest, «Oathbearer» displays emotional atmospheres, over five long traditional tracks alongside one acoustic piece. This journey is one of sadness and sorrow, but also projects feelings of hope and strength as you make your way through the mist. The production is amazing, very grandiose, with layers of distorted guitars and bass, but also amazingly used keyboards. One major aspect of this release is also the approach to acoustic guitars, a very important element of this release. The all acoustic piece «A Cairn-Keeper’s Lament»» shows a particularly effective way to approach the acoustic guitar. As to be expected from The Watcher, the vocals are also an overall strong attribute on this project. The harsh vocals are perfectly mixed, as if coming from far away, with a nice touch of reverb. We are also granted with absolutely amazing clean vocals, very nicely put together, very enchanting. The drums are exactly what they need to be, simple and effective, with blasting moments coming together in perfect harmony with the slow and mid-tempo passages.
This album is made for listens from beginning to end preferably, with each chapter of the saga being grandiose and majestic in nature. All the songs blend well together. The CD version comes in a superb digipack format with nice artwork and organic colours, properly setting the table for the images to have in your mind when listening to the album. We strongly recommend this debut album from Fellwarden, and we sincerely hope this is not just a one-time affair and that we will be rewarded with a second chapter at some point in the near future. For fans of not only their previously mentioned countrymen but also early Ulver, Drudkh, Imperium Dekadenz, Woods of Desolation or any other of the many giants of the genre.