"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Cellbound - "Fallen Angels of Sui Caedere" (CD)

Cellbound - "Fallen Angels of Sui Caedere" CD cover image

"Fallen Angels of Sui Caedere" track listing:

1. Spit Me Out
2. Your Savior
3. Forgotten
4. Fallen Angels of Sui Caedere
5. Bleed Through Me
6. Voices
7. Nothing to Die For
8. Dark Grove
9. Slave
10. Admit It

Reviewed by on August 28, 2009

"Even the expectation that Emig was the 'clean vocalist' in the band gets shattered, as she lets loose with a screamed vocal that's harsh and beautiful at the same time."

Cellbound is one of those wonderfully maddening bands that builds up your expectations with one song, only to completely defy them in the next. The band's first full-length CD, "Fallen Angels of Sui Caedere," is full of fascinating twists and turns that had me hooked from the first moments after I hit play.

It's always risky to have two vocalists in a band. Listeners are often likely to like one more than the other, and there's often the possibility that they won't complement each other well. Cellbound adds one more wrinkle to that equation, with Chris Emig adding her distinctly feminine energy that contrasts well with Tom Herttna's guttural growls. The band's bio suggests their sound is a mix of Pantera and Lacuna Coil, but honestly, it goes much further than that.

The first two tracks set up the expectations I had for the rest of the album. On "Spit Me Out" and "Your Savior," Herttna's melodic growls are featured in the faster parts. Then, when the band slows up for the choruses, Emig's melodic vocals are featured. It's a nice contrast, but I wondered if it would drag the disc into "duets album" territory, in which the two vocalists didn't interact that often.

The third track, "Forgotten," smashed right through that expectation, as Emig sang over the speedy guitar line, with Herttna growling in the background. Even the expectation that Emig was the "clean vocalist" in the band gets shattered, as she let loose with a screamed vocal that's harsh and beautiful at the same time.

I love the intricate way in which these two singers work together. Take the title track, "Fallen Angels of Sui Caedere," in which Emig holds a beautiful sustained note as Herttna angrily spits out lyrics. Or for that matter, "Nothing to Die For" and "Dark Grove," in which the two are actually harmonizing as they sing the same vocal line. There was something especially "Ella and Louis" about the way the harsh and clean vocals mixed (for all you jazz fans out there).

Yes, the vocals are incredibly striking, but don't take the fact that I've gone on and on about them as any kind of indictment against the rest of the band. The playing on this disc is uniformly excellent.

I played "Spit Me Out" for a co-worker, who pointed out how much he enjoyed the way Shaun Vanek and Dave Borowske's guitars built on each other in the opening. The riffs, though often incredibly brutal, never lose their sense of melody. The solos are organic extensions of the songs, but are also excellent showcases for the duo's technique.

Greg Baise and Todd Alley on drums and bass provide an excellent heartbeat for the songs. I particularly like Alley's drum intro to "Nothing to Die For."

I don't have a lot of negative things to say about this disc, except that there are a couple negligible moments here and there where the instrumentation comes within a hair's breadth of covering up Emig's vocals.

Cellbound's "Fallen Angels of Sui Caedere" is a near-perfect album that should appeal to fans across the spectrum. If you want sledgehammer riffs and guttural growls, they're here. If you want beautiful, soaring vocals over clean melodies, they're here too — sometimes in the same song. In short, this is a metal masterpiece.

Highs: Every song's a keeper, but "Forgotten" stands above the rest in terms of interplay between the vocalists; "Spit Me Out" and "Nothing to Die For" stand out in terms of instrumental brilliance.

Lows: Nothing much, save a couple minor production quibbles.

Bottom line: A superb disc that blends harshness and beauty to maximum effect.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)