Ember Belladonna – The Grove
Ember Belladonna is one of those genre-bending, boundary-pushing projects that will shake up what you think is possible in the realm of metal fusions. This is not Symphonic Metal, it’s flute-based Folk Metal, though it’s so much more than just Metal. There are hauntingly beautiful melodies that barely register in the Rock realm, and then there is the track with the harsh vocals from Laura Inferno that is every bit as stunning as anything Heilung or Eluveitie has produced. As a solo artist, Emma uses guest musicians to fill out the non-flute parts, including James Delbridge and Saint Zapp among others. This album took me on a journey I did not know I needed, but will forever be glad I experienced it.
- Ember Belladonna (Emma Kramer-Rodger) – Flute
- Justin Bender – Guitar/Mixing And Mastering
- Saint Zapp – Drums
- Laura Inferno (From The Inferno Doll) – Featured On “Spirit Woman”
- The Darkeyed Musician – Featured On “The Grove”
- James Delbridge (From Lycanthro) – Featured On “Ruination”
February 9, 2024 – Self-Released
- Heart of the Grove (feat. The Darkeyed Musician)
- The Wild Hunt
- Ruination (feat. James Delbridge from Lycanthro)
- The Grove
- Spirit Woman (feat. Laura Inferno from The Inferno Doll)
- The Unnamed
- Heart of the Grove (Instrumental)
Almost as you would expect, the album opens with a hauntingly beautiful flute melody, “Tenalach.” A quick search provides that the definition of this word is “a relationship one has with the land/air/water, a deep connection that allows one to literally hear the earth sing.” This melody carries into “Heart of The Grove,” a five-minute song with old-fashioned percussion and one of the eeriest voices I’ve heard in a long time. The tone in that voice, when running through the verses, has a desperate longing to it, and then it goes for heavier power through the chorus. This makes me wonder if the grove is crying out for help, longing to reveal the secrets it holds. The Darkeyed Musician creates one of the most charismatic vocal performances I’ve heard recently.
Going much heavier, “Ruination” has a lilting flute melody over a chugging guitar riff and the Power Metal vocals of James Delbridge of Lycanthro fame. James takes full flight on vocals, going off on the first note, a massive scream to bring the voice into the track. The flute goes wild, matching the tempo of the drums, and the vocal layers create a heavenly soundscape, building to a crescendo, and then dropping to end the song. The build-up is worth the wait and the conclusion feels like it hits on just the right beat.
“The Grove,” another instrumental, leads us into “Spirit Woman,” one of the dominant tracks on this album. Laura Inferno on The Inferno Doll takes the Folksy Flute Metal to a new level by bringing in harsh vocals. She starts with clean vocalizations. Those cleans stay present under some of the harsh vocals, creating a massive dichotomy of aural sensations. The guitar and flute lead over the heavy riff, rhythm combination mirrors the harsh and clean vocals, providing a stunning synchronicity throughout the song.
Ember Belladonna was created to push the boundaries of what Metal is and can be and they have done that. The gentle melodies and haunted tones from the flute and some of the strings take the mind in one direction while the heavy riffing and matching rhythms go another place altogether. There is something comforting about hearing the two wildly different tones fused into one composition. Tenson and relaxation mix in an oddly beautiful melody capable of transporting your mind to a place it may never have gone before. This is a journey I’m glad I took as I feel like I went somewhere new in my mind.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 9
Overall – 9.40