Demo:listen: Felled

Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, black, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, heavy, speed, progressive, stoner, retro, post-, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen, we circumvent your expectations to present Oregon’s Felled.

Currently based in Eugene, Oregon, Felled imbue their earthen and imaginative black metal with exquisite folk melodies, ethereal violinwork, and pensive passages of rainy doom. While Bonfire Grit is Felled’s demo, guitarist/vocalist Cavan Wagner and drummer/vocalist Jenn Grunigen played together previously in an outfit they called Moss Of Moonlight. You can hear hints of Felled’s coming greatness in their former band, but with the full lineup, Wagner and Grunigen, have truly found their voice. As Grunigen tells it, “Regardless of the name, the project is a continuation of Cavan’s writing, and of the collective ideas, stories, evocations that began in 2010. Felled sprung from Moss of Moonlight, but is very much its own creature—we have a full lineup of artists now, each contributing in their own way. And the sound is different. Darker. Deeper. More mature.”

Besides their stellar musicianship, Felled also emanate golden rays of sincerity. It’s palpable in every moment of Bonfire Grit that this demo was forged in the fires of passion and hardened in those dark moments of self-doubt that all artists must endure. “I’m drawn to the earth, and the goddess Sif, as well as the Cascadian region,” says Wagner. “We live within the largest temperate rain forest in the world . . . how could I not be inspired? The earth speaks to us and we try to speak back.”

After recalling her childhood largely spent in the forests of Pacific Northwest, reared by a “master gardener” mother and a “ex-wildlife biologist” father, Grunigen explains the method of her approach toward music. “Because I tend to interpret the things that resonate with me—such as the earth—through story,” she says, “those things tend to come out in my music . . . not only because I write most of the band’s lyrics, but also because I often take a narrative approach when writing my drum parts.”

There’s much about Felled to place them above—or apart from—many other bands, but the most immediately obvious is their eloquent employment of the violin. At one time strings were practically a prerequisite for black metal, but even in those days, the bands with violins didn’t sound like Felled. “It was difficult to find the right group, because musicians were always telling me that violin didn’t belong in metal—but also because of the hyper-masculinity in metal culture brushing me off for being a woman,” explains Felled’s violinist Tiffany Holliday. “I love playing with Felled because Cavan had already written several melodies with the violin in mind. Also, Jenn being a strong female pillar of the group makes it a fertile environment for feminine energy to thrive.”

Many black metal bands claim to operate beyond trends while sounding like the fifty other bands who are claiming the same thing. Felled simply make the music of their hearts to the best of their abilities and the result needs no disclaimer, no caveats, no warnings to potential unworthy listeners. Felled is black metal as a refuse for world-weary souls, and Bonfire Grit is a soothing balm to ease your apocalyptic anxieties. The world is still ugly, and still doomed, but here is some wonderful and intelligent art created by people who understand, who look that unfortunate truth in the face, and sing.

For our readers in the PNW, go see Felled tonight at Old Nick’s Pub with Pillorian. Otherwise pick up your copy of Bonfire Grit on CD from Felled today. After touring the west coast this summer, Felled plan to record the full length they’ve already written. Labels interested in working with Felled should not hesitate to contact the band.

You heard Felled here first on Demo:listen. Check this space next and every Friday for promising new metal.