Recorded during the COVID crisis last year, Fell Harvest‘s debut album Pale Light In a Dying World found American musician Robert Fell presented with the ultimate career-threatening hurdle after he found he was unable to contribute vocals of death metal grade brutality for the project due to damage to his lungs caused by the virus. This is a serious dilemma, clearly, when you front a band that seeks to purvey a doom/death metal hybrid sound. Thankfully, Fell persevered, rethinking his vocal approach, with the result being eminently listenable.

At times now he sounds like a cross between Nick Holmes and Tom G Warrior in one of his more ‘quirky’ guises, with perhaps a little of Woods of Ypres’ much missed David Gold added to the mix. This actually gives the band a nice point of difference that they might not have had if Fell had been able to growl away unmolested, and this reviewer certainly din’t find the music lacking in bite minus the extreme vocal approach.

Standout cut The Wind That Shakes The Barley metalises an old Irish ballad, in grandiose, thoroughly over the top fashion; Starting just as you’d expect, the song then explodes thanks to some severe bombast from guitarist Liam Duncan and a tsunami of black metal-styled drums from Angel Enkeli that completely blow the bucolic sadness of the song into the stratosphere. It’s mighty impressive stuff, superbly conceived and faultlessly executed.

Thy Barren Fields is another favourite, being perhaps a bit more what you’d expect from a doom/death band, but even here the band aren’t afraid to stray a little off the path, injecting a huge, radio-friendly hook into the chorus that you’ll find keeps chipping away at your brain for days after you first hear it. Again, you’ll be impressed by the band’s willingness to push the envelope.

Good stuff then, and I’ve no hesitation in recommending this as a fine slab of melodic, mature heavy metal that should have no trouble in appealing to those who enjoy a cerebral edge to their headbanging.

Pale Light in a Dying World is out now.