-- Fearwell --
|■||Melodic death metal|
|■||Jeremy Geels||Vocals, lead guitar|
|■||Johan Van Der Linden||Heavy vocals|
Review written by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.
[METAL SHREDDER REPORTING]
Last month I was contacted by Fearwell’s vocalist/guitarist Jeremy to check out his band’s debut album. It took me a while to get back into full-time shredding (let’s say I was a bit burned out due to a combination of full-time shredding and some IRL stuff). But I’m gradually shredding at full capacity again and Fearwell’s debut release “Well of Fear” is the first on my list!
“Well Of Fear” is the first full-length of the Dutch melodic death/power metal and is an independent release. After a symphonic intro track consisting of war drums that later get joined by horns, violins, chants and more the band starts off the “Well of Fear” album with its title track and Fearwell’s style immediately became apparent to me, fast drums, melodic guitars joined by keyboard-produced symphonic undertones and both clean and harsh vocals and while the song’s middle part was a bit too dragged out, the guitar solo in the song’s latter part did make up for that.
After that pleasant introduction it was time for “Philosopher’s Mind,” another fast-pounding and energetic tune in which I particularly enjoyed the duet parts between Jeremy’s clean singing and Johan’s heavier vocals. This was also a shorter track compared to the preceding title tune and it gave this song a significantly better pacing. Then comes “Creature of the Night” which brings out a more thrash metal inspired side of Fearwell, this combined with the typical power vocals gave this particular track quite a unique feel. Just like with the title track, this song’s middle part jam was once again a bit too long for my tastes but the guitar solo that came after that part was another beautiful one.
The album’s fifth track, “Alone,” kicks off with an eerie monologue backed by the same orchestral instruments as the album’s “Intro” track and then the song shows its multifaced nature. The song’s first quarter has sections with orchestral vocals and sweet guitar & keyboard melodies while other parts have aggressive thrash riffs and vocals. The second quarter of this “Alone” track has multiple guitar solos. The song’s third quarter features a short ballad and finally the ending quarter lets the chorus rage for one last time. Quite an ambitious song and for the most part Fearwell does it very well.
Next up is “Hypocrite” and once again power and thrash metal sections intertwine with each other with the power metal in particular being quite epic. The next track, “Fight Within Myself” puts the speed pedal in and shows some upbeat guitar tunes, a favorite of mine on this album all things considered even though that short jam section in the song’s latter part wasn’t quite necessary. Then the album moves on to “Ocean Of Anger” and that track, unlike its predecessor, isn’t among my favorites. The whole thing for me felt like a cacophony between the vocals, guitars and keys which is unusual because those elements are used quite harmoniously throughout the rest of the album.
But Fearwell saves the best for last with the epic finale “Battle in the Bay of Matanzas.” 13 minutes of power symphonies, slow-paced Dio inspired storytelling, Iron Maiden-esque gallops, an eerie echoing monologue and even a Gregorian chant backed by organs. A song which sheer variety makes me engaged for its entire lengthy runtime.
Fearwell describe themselves as inspired by the likes of Iron Maiden, Children Of Bodom, Yngwie Malmsteen and Vektor I also feel bits of Dio, Hammerfall and Judas Priest (“Painkiller” in particular) in their style. Fearwell’s major strength for me lies in their combination of death, thrash and power metal sprinkled with some symphonic metal and even a little bit of folk. It’s a very versatile sound that makes for some interesting musical combinations and makes the whole thing pretty unpredictable. Another great thing about Fearwell’s current material is their sweet guitar solo work. I think that Fearwell can further expand on this because all those little metal subgenre ingredients mix together pretty well. It just requires a bit more spice, particularly in the more extreme parts.
While I mostly enjoyed listening through Fearwell’s debut album and shredding this review together, there are a few things I think could make Fearwell stand out more (aside from the more spiced-up extreme metal I talked about earlier). For one, the production feels dry and lacks some impact to complement Fearwell’s beefy style. A second thing that I feel is holding Fearwell back is the overall length of their current material, several of the longer tunes on the “Well Of Fear” album contain jamming middle sections that don’t really contribute to anything and cut down some of the momentum that the band builds up in the early and latter sections of their songs. Examples of such songs with weaker middle parts are the title track, “Philosopher’s Mind” and “Alone.”
The cover art of “Well of Fear” shows off a well with a black-hooded creature coming out with glowing green eyes (which also appear on Fearwell’s logo), wearing chains and holding a bright white lantern. The well itself is located in a dark forest with various menacing red eyes, which, like the hooded creature itself, are looking straight at the viewer. While the artwork is a bit cheesy, I do like the colorfulness of it and the creature emerging from the well reminds me of the Japanese horror movie “Ringu” (also known in the West thanks to its American remake “The Ring”).
[SHARPEST SHREDS & BLUNTEST BLADES]
I’ve got quite a few favorites here. I enjoyed the raw side of “Creature of the Night,” the epicness of both “Hypocrite” and “Fight Within Myself” and the beautiful versatility of “Battle in the Bay of Matanzas.” For me the weakest track was the weird chaos of “Ocean of Anger” as well as the momentum-spoiling jams featured in songs like the title track, “Philosopher’s Mind” and “Alone.” And I also found the album’s intro track to be unnecessary lengthy (it’s around 2:40 minutes long and if it were for me, I’d cut off about 1 minute of runtime from it).
7 fearful wells out of 10. While the whole thing still needs some extra spice and tighter knotting, Fearwell’s first album is an enjoyable cocktail of power, thrash and death metal with a bit of folk & symphony on top of it all. Certainly worth checking out, but be prepare for some unnecessary fat.