Dalla Nebbia – Felix Culpa (2015)

Dalla Nebbia consider themselves a black metal act, but there is much more brewing at the seams than just that. These guys employ folk instruments, seventies progressions and a style that sounds to me, more like a type of melancholic doom/death. “Until The Rain Subsides” (7:52) definitely has it’s black metal semblances, but I just don’t really feel that it is black metal or kvlt per se. There are actually very few tremolo riffs in the mix, which does not a black metal act make. Even so, there’s something deeper and far more interesting here than some regular old black metal group and it’s what immediately drew me to them. “Abandoned Unto Sky” (6:19) however, actually sounds more like black metal, as it fills with beats and tremolos fitting of the genre. Though thankfully it doesn’t stay there, as the melodic edge and the band’s willingness to explore seems far through that. There’s actually a keyboard effect that sounds like a hole in space time is opening, which is really quite cool. “Lament Of Aokigahara” (7:47) takes things into Bill’s territory, with an extremely bleak and rather tragic piece. The keyboards light the atmosphere beautifully, as the harsh and memorable vocal approach imbues a massive amount of pure, unbridled emotion. These are literally some of the best harsh vocals I’ve heard in a black metal act of this nature, so I’d definitely recommend the album based on them alone. Yet again, there’s so much more here to an act that like ours; seeks to color way out of the lines when it comes to genre boundaries.

Clean vocals are also featured on the album, which are done rather well, albeit used sparingly. They come in just as they need to and add as much spice as the thick growls that you’ll sometimes hear on funeral dirges like “Not Within The Stone” (7:22) for example. Now, there is something truly unexpected on the disc (and I hope it’s a sign of experiments to come) called “Das Gelachter Gottes” (1:55) which carries with it an industrial vibe. I absolutely commend this idea, even though subtly used and I really hope that this isn’t the last time we’ll hear these guys playing folky death/black/doom and bringing in electronics at the same time. While there will be a lot of people that can’t think out of the fucking box as they feel the whole atmosphere has been tarnished, a piece like this assures me that there’s more to this act than we’re hearing on Felix Culpa alone, and I’d definitely like to see that further evolved and branched out. But that’s when “Paradise In Flames” (9:29) kicks in with strong synths and progressive rock melodies that end the album out on a terrific and absolutely unexpected instrumental piece… for a while, anyway. It soon morphs into an equally unexpected blast of fierce blackened death, which proves the final note, before yet one more final recording in closer “The Silent Transition (2:58). One could say that this piece wasn’t even really needed and that “Paradise In Flames” was enough, but I certainly won’t shy it away.

When all is said and done, I feel that Dalla Nebbia have perfectly captured the spirit of funereal blackened death, or if you’d rather, black/death/doom. Perhaps that is because I play in a band of a similar nature and understand what the atmosphere is and furthermore, how it is conveyed properly. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started playing the record, but I’m really glad that the experience was even more amazing than I could have hoped. Not only does Felix Culpa show a band that is willing to experiment and turn the genre on it’s nose, but they’re also incredibly musically proficient and have an awesome vocalist. A really awesome vocalist. As I said, the man truly shows a lot of passion and emotion within this recording and the translates just as well to the listener. This may be the band’s debut and as such, it is still rough around the edges in some areas. But I have absolute faith that future efforts will expand outwards, with further polish in what I think could be a highly respected metal act in years to come. Not many people know of these guys, but they should. Which is why I’m proud to promote them and this outstanding sophomore record. The Grim Tower highly recommends Felix Culpa.

(10 Tracks, 56:00)

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