The grey, chilly, rainy North of England has long shouldered a reputation for urban decay and economic blight—one that's surely been earned over centuries of hardship, but is also a bit unfair. I've spent quite a lot of time up yonder, and will be the first to insist that t's not all grim up North—look at the Pennines, or the Lake District! However, it's those gritty pockets of desperation and sorrow that interest the malcontents behind Manchester's Cold Fell.
Irwell marks the first proper releases from the band, which is steered by one Laurence Taylor, who's also known for his work with Noisey faves Caïna. Here, Taylor sticks to vocals, and is joined by guitarists Karl Sveinsson and Giovanni Infantino, drummer Callum Cox, and Oliver Edward Turner on bass Together, their take on the genre is more orthodox than one might expect, offering predominantly straightforward though heavily atmospheric (think plague miasma rather than gossamer Cascadiana) black metal, with a heavy, stinking tinge of decrepit death metal. The paranoid, slithery "Folly (Health and Glory)" is a great example of the former, while the track after it is pure, freezing black metal fury.
It's an excellent record overall, and one that took four years to bring to fruition. As Taylor offered, "As a band, we have strived to create black metal which is straightforward and aggressive but original without veering into self-indulgent 'avantgarde' territory—the diverse range of influences should be evident to the seasoned listener of black metal and its surrounding genres. Conceptually, the album presents the listener with the unpleasant facts of life, set against the fume-choked backdrop of provincial Northern towns and decaying cities."
Wash the coal dust off your face, put t'kettle on, and press play on the whole thing below. The album is now available from Argento Records.