Hivelords' 7" Grand Cromlech left a pleasant taste in my mouth. It was everything I like in a slow, blackened funeral dirge. Moments of melodic hissing, atonal spritzes, a phenomenal vocal performance. For fans of more extreme doom sub genres it was hands down one of the highlights of many local projects from Philly which tends to be a hotbed for sludgy, gross and disgusting black metal offshoots. Now I encounter their debut full length which was released a year earlier than the 7" EP. Little information on the lineup on the release is given, obviously vocalist Kevin North is present. Guitarist Will Rollem, bassist Tyler Butler, drummer Justin Alexander round out the foursome. They are getting some notoriety apparently as they just opened for Cobalt on their post-MDF appearance in Philly last night.
The Cellar Scrolls is very similar in style to the EP, slightly more bright and crisp in production which seems to take away from the effect of spinning a 7" and emitting evil monstrous sounds. The disc greets you with the black and white image of a large roach scaling an unknown object which may be a tree or may be a torn page from one of the books of mazes and labyrinths which I owned as a child. there is little by way of information however lyrics are provided in the single paged insert. The times and song titles appear on the back. Some more artwork would have been appreciated in the package. The disc appears to be a professional duplicated CDr.
The music here varies little from the more recent Grand Cromlech wax. Opening track "Larvaeathan" is the better track but only because after the nine minute opener, all the other tracks just seem to have lost effect. On the EP, Hivelords was able to separate songs better than on their debut. While there are moments of memorable sections in each of the songs, second track "Odun-Kyhrr" has the best moment of the disc with a stellar lead melody halfway through the track after a section of unique clean vocals by North where he half sings half mourns. Final track, "Funeral Hag" opens with a slow submerged bass intro but otherwise continues with Hivelords' recipe of drawn out chords, minimalist drumming and excellent vocals.
See this band if you can in a local dive or bar. If you're in Philly on the 15th they are playing some block party but do yourself a favor and catch them in the right setting for maximum effect. It doesn't do anyone justice if you're watching a dark and dreary band that sings about crypts and insects and dungeon chambers if you're watching them on a bright sunny side street of Philly while some hipster grills up veggie burgers and tofu hot dogs and they are sharing a stage with bands like Bunny Savage and the Handymen or Zebras and Bulls Fight Tonight.