Text: Friend X
Cellar Darling presented their recent album “The Spell” on a headlining tour supported by Oceans and Forever Still. Obscuro reports from their show in the stuffy cellar club Nachtleben in downtown Frankfurt back in October 2019.
Is It Folk Metal Or Prog Metal?
One does not need much to say when it comes to Cellar Darling.
Three excellent and brilliant Swiss (and partly Irish) musicians and even more important, friends who already had a career in their former band together.
This band still exists since they left but Cellar Darling prove, they are neither a copy nor clone but an entirely autonomous band with a very special and unique sound that is a bit of everything of every style in the metal scene, I can think of. Well, let us talk about “sound” later…
The band as the trio they are, consists of Ivo Heinzi on guitar, Merlin Sutter on drums and half Irish Anna Murphy on vocals and all other instruments, apart from bass guitar that is played live by Nikolas Winter featuring since 2017.
This autumn they did their first full European headliner tour and their paths also led them to Frankfurt Rock City, the well-known cellar club Nachtleben in the middle of the city.
So all of us were ready for the three darlings and their two support bands, supplied by their record label.
German-Austrian Collaboration Oceans
The first band to play this afternoon was Oceans from Austria and Germany.
They play a kind of Post Death Metal, not really what comes to ears right from the beginning but nevertheless interesting to listen to. Their 30-minutes slot was exactly enough to tease the audience without boring it. Well done!
Forever Still But Not So Still
Sadly, Forever Still from Denmark entered the stage as a trio only because their bass player suffered some serious back problems and his riffs had to come from the backing tracks instead. Since Volbeat, Denmark has been well known for a much heavier mainstream musical taste than Germany but surprise, surprise, Forever Still is not the heaviest band of the world though. Instead they spinned a sound web which was very progressive and used some instruments, the one or other in the audience had never seen before.
Not the most catchy songs ever but of a high quality which was appreciated well by the audience.
During the sets of Oceans and Forever Still, Ivo held position at the merchandising table, talking with some members of the other bands, people of the audience, watching their support and indeed selling some of their merch. Meanwhile Merlin and Anna joined in, watched for a moment and entered their dressing room.
Being ready for a while they then had to wait much longer than expected to start their show due to technical issues with the sound – or better – no sound from the stage anymore.
Anna came out, excused and thanked the audience for being patient but the problem was out of their hands and she promised they would find a solution if nothing else worked.
Some already “hoped” for a complete acoustic set but they failed, the crew of the Nachtleben fixed the issues at a certain point between hope and giving up and Cellar Darling entered the stage.
Better Late Than Never, Cellar Darling
The show was kind of divided into two parts, first Cellar Darling played songs of their new concept album “The Spell”, based on a story of a maiden, death and love.
Therefore, there was a “Pain”ful “Death” of “Love” before “The Spell” brought some “Insomnia” to “Freeze” before it was “Drown”ed. These songs are really heavy stuff to go through and to understand but each one of them is a petite masterpiece on its own. These are no catchy earworms but thoughtful little stories the audience can dream away with. And that is what Cellar Darling is about, they are storytellers, not only music makers but also unquestionably thoroughbred artists in more than only one regard.
Indeed, the mood was very dark, darker than the skies over Frankfurt.
Nevertheless followed the selection of songs from their first album “This Is The Sound” which was chosen well with “Black Moon” as the “Starcrusher” down to “Fire, Wind And Earth” before “Six Days” of “Redemption” turned into the last song to finish the show. An 11 years old girl, watching the show with her father, later on told me, she was so desperately waiting for “Avalanche” for the whole show. And she wasn’t disappointed in the least with it to be the final song. She was very proud to show me Merlin’s broken drumstick she received from Nikolas, the live bass player.
It was obvious that Cellar Darling were not absolutely happy with the way the sound issues could be dealt with. A lesser band had just have screwed up but they did everything to please the audience from the bottom of their hearts, needless to say, none left earlier. At least Anna was happy with both, their show and their audience, and in her typical cautious if not shy Swiss style “You know, I’m not a woman of many words but let the music speak instead” thanked everybody for being there and invited them for a chat with them directly after the show.
Their Journey Continues
Yes, it was late, later than expected but worth it, as already written above, a band with lesser musical skills might have failed on this remarkable evening of technical issues. And every single note was played live, no tape, no overdubbing, just pure live from 3 + 1 excellent individual musicians.
These three personalities are truly dedicated musicians, friendly, honest and just (not only) Cellar Darlings.
They will continue their way through the business and they will succeed because they are like Alexandre Dumas’ “Three Musketeers”, one for all, all for one.
We can hope for the festival season 2020 to see and hear more of them for sure.