Fell On Black Days – Talion

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Review by Jason Guest

Somewhere deep within the hills and valleys of sunny South Wales – Ebbw Vale, to be precise –  reside Fell On Black Days, a dedicated metal band drinking deeply and copiously of a metal elixir made up of the likes of Lamb of God, Machine Head, Mastodon, Pantera, Testament and the Big Four. If you’re wondering what that sounds like then the first minute of ‘Ends With Me’, a savage eruption of grooving riffs, pummelling drums, and a ferocious vocal attack will make it abundantly clear. What follows is a ruthless torrent of sustained brutality delivered by five technically adept musicians and one finely tuned band. After declaring their metal might with the opening track, FOBD augment the technical aspect of their sound with melodic passages and frontman Gavin Robinson’s clean vocals akin to Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell brought into the mix. ‘Mea Culpa’ and ‘Some More Than Others’, two tracks in a similar vein, both foreground the mighty riffs and lead work of Matt Hall and Mark Tranter. FOBD’s ability to balance their concentrated brutality, their technical ability and capacity for melody are at their best in the title track, the grooves deep, the drumming tight and intensely synchronised with the cutting riffs, ‘Talion’ stands head and shoulders above the rest as the most impressive track here. That is until closing track ‘Bone of Contention’ rears its ugly head. An epic that drifts across a number of genres, the band pull out all the stops and finish the album off with all they’ve got in terms of dynamics and musicianship.

It’d be easy to label this as metalcore given FOBD’s use of the heavy-followed-by-melodic structures and dynamics of most of the songs but they move beyond the confines of the genre on more than a few occasions. Though some of the tracks can sound a little too similar in terms of structure and melody, the band are no less than menacing. Displaying the vulgar power of Pantera, the moshpit might of Anthrax, the threatening thrash of Slayer, and the progressive elements of Mastodon, FOBD are at their best when pummelling the listener with savage and ruthless torrents of brutality. The rhythm section of bassist Glenn Newbrook and drummer Shaun Hodson provides a solid foundation for the dynamic interplay between the two guitarists and for Gavin to flesh out the rage with the full range of his impressive vocals. Heavy, melodic, aggressive and intelligent, FOBD’s Talion is the kind of metal that will cause much carnage in the live setting. The industry – and society – may well have fallen on black days, but metal can only become stronger for it, and Talion embodies that notion. Definitely worth your time.

7 out of 10

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Track Listing:

  1. Ends With Me
  2. Mea Culpa
  3. Some More Than Others
  4. Cold Rapture
  5. Talion
  6. Promises
  7. Tooth And Nail
  8. Bring Out Your Dead
  9. Path To Ruin
  10. Bone Of Contention