Last week, Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast Turned 35. That classic of the genre ends with "Hallowed be Thy Name", a song sung from the perspective of a man sentenced to hang by the neck until dead. In that song the protagonist wonders

Could it be that there´s some sort of error?
Hard to stop the surmounting terror
Is it really the end or some crazy dream?

Somebody please tell me that I´m dreaming
It´s not easy to stop from screaming
Words escape me when I try to speak...

Tears, they flow; but why am I crying?
After all, I´m not afraid of dying
Do not believe that there never is an end...

As the guards bring me out to the courtyard
Somebody cries from a cell, "God be with you!"
If there´s a god then why does he let me die?

Heavy stuff. Every kind of art must justify its own existence from time to time, and metal's strongest justification flows from its ability to evoke and ponder huge and frightening unknowns such as death, life, god, and the destiny of mankind.

I don't remember a band in the past few months grappling with those kinds of questions with the courage and intensity of Coldfells.

A blackened doom outfit from Ohio featuring members of Nechochwen and Plaguewielder, Coldfells have written an instantly-affecting debut album dealing with, in their own words "eternity" and "infinity". Their LP opens with "The Rope", a song that sometimes seems like an answer to "Hallowed Be Thy Name", another extended meditation on life and its meaning that deals with a hanging.

The road, it stretches to infinity
Cloaked in frustration for eternity
The rope that drags behind is long, you see?
How will I ever pull it up to me?

The heaviest matter in the universe. Coldfells do it justice with huge chugged chords, decaying melodies that remind me of Gregor Mackintosh's best work with Paradise Lost and beautiful, restrained keyboards. It's not just contrived melancholy, either. I grew up not far from the Coldfells camp, and the quiet desperation of northern Ohio these days has a gravity which cannot be manufactured. Anyone who has felt it can recognize it.

The whole album's as good as that song. After one listen, I removed my headphones and though about the first times I heard Cormorant. Or Opeth. Or Iron Maiden. Yes, I love it that much, not just because the music is beautiful but because it evokes heaviness while also offering the strength to lift that weight. Like the song says:

"The treasure that I'm seeking lies ahead
I'll pull the heaviest load until I am dead."



Coldfells is out April 1 via Bindrune. There are no pre-orders. Follow Coldfells on facebook.


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