Last updated on May 11, 2021
undying stories of a fallen world from Dark Wooden Cell embodies the modern day town cryer brilliantly. The duo self-identifies their haunting style as dark folk-blues, yet a cursory listen through Dark Wooden Cell’s back catalog brought me to a different conclusion. Frontman Mike Gory’s vocal style brings to mind Disturbed’s David Draiman. Deeply affecting, its ability to generate tension crafts the perfect mood. The blend of vocals with his guitar and Bruno Marmiroli’s saxo-trombone is pure genius.
Opener “the broken tool” shows the elegance of a stark, simple acoustic guitar line offering an invitation into the Undying Stories of a Fallen World. “the useless filthy spade” soars as a weirdly caustic soothsayer with some of the most haunting vocal deliveries of any rock vocals I have heard this year. Juxtaposed against perky musicality, the track is a masterclass in composition. “the flood” plays with engineering, the mix feeling overwhelming, a sonic drowning of sorts. Crisp, clear, and up front in the mix, each instrument stands alone in “the radio.” Sheer perfection, the song sends me back to pushing more towards progressive metal if listeners need to classify what they are listening to.
Empty yet sublime, the hypnotic beat of “the skeletons” sets the tone for the track’s pulsing simplicity. “the night” creates soundscapes that envelop more than six minutes. It’s pure magic: each hollow guitar strum matched with sax fills creates sonic shadows between Gory’s vocals. There’s been nothing like this in quite some time. “the ghost” takes on a brighter edge towards fate; lyrically complex, this poetry seems to be the scream before an execution in the face of emotional destruction.
The beauty of Dark Wooden Cell seems to be its unwavering willingness to call out the truth. Closer “the End” sees Gory whistling a tune along the trombone melody, which seems a fitting adieu to the journey. Dark Wooden Cell’s undying stories of a fallen world is certainly one of the most strikingly creative works released this year.–Lisa Whealy