Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles

The Saberlight Chronicles Album Cover Art

Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles
Scarlet Records
Release Date: 15/07/22
Running Time: 01:04:47
Review by Simon Black
7/10

“Our aim is to make classic guitarey Power Metal in a way that doesn’t make us cringe too hard. Also we dress like hobbits, so it’s not going too well…”

This quote was lifted from Fellowship’s Bandcamp introduction statement and as well as making my spit out my coffee when I read it, it’s remarkably self-admonishing. If nothing else as a UK act Fellowship are very brave for even taking on the genre, but if they wear the Hobbit cloak’s on the streets of their native Harwich, then they probably deserve what they get. To be fair, I may have a jaded view based on my one and only trip to Harwich where I did get a brick thrown at me, but then it was the 1980’s when I had long curly hair and should probably be grateful that it wasn’t still attached to the wall.

The reason I chose this record to review was complex. 

A little about how we work first, if you would indulge me. Here at Ever Metal we have an email inbox where labels, PR companies and bands can submit material for our review. They do this rather a lot, to the point where keeping on top of the mail takes a good couple of hours every day, which is not helped when you have to sift through all the ones that can’t be bothered to tell us when it’s actually coming out, include any kind of link to the album that doesn’t require a degree in codebreaking to open, didn’t actually came out months (or indeed years) ago, or is in fact a request to help some Somalian Prince shift the $10M USD he forgot to bank and is worried about getting stolen from his kitchen table whilst he’s in the local internet café telling us all about it. It is literally about a hundred plus mails every day. 

Now all of us do other things to enable us to eat, so this is a labour of love we fit in around real life, and even going full pelt we could only review about 10% of what we get sent through on a good week, so please don’t bitch if it takes us a few days after your release date –to get it published, as you should have sent it sooner. And yes, PR companies reading this, sending us something we’ve never heard of the day before it’s release for the first time is not an ‘exclusive’, it’s just too bloody late, so earn your dough and get it out there in advance so we have time to review it. Rant over! Now Fellowship got this much right, because I pulled this from the pile a good two months ago and had forgotten why I had selected it, but with the release date looming decided that I had better pull my finger out. 

The opening bars made me shudder somewhat, because the opener ‘All The Fires Die’ evokes cookie cutter Power Metal of the kind that dominates the Italian market due to the likes of the revolving door that is the Rhapsody group of bands. But then this is Scarlet Records here, who may be Italian but generally have a roster of quite credible Metalic spectacle available (Apostolica, Frozen Criwn, Six Foot Six, and Sole Syndicate being a few of the ones I rave about, but you can keep Veonity, Trick Or Treat and Skeletoon). Anyway, the reason I chose it is because Fellowship are actually that rarity of rarities a British Power Metal band and one that is not afraid to follow in the Italian Euro Power tradition… er, dressed as Hobbits, the poor deluded bastards. So I’m guessing that not much happens in Harwich even now… 

Added to which it’s clearly a sword and sorcery influenced concept piece and no-one’s told them that the song title ‘Avalon’ has been taken 873 times already elsewhere in the genre. Now at this point, I’m ready to go for a full-on roast review, but annoyingly once that rather cheesy intro song is out of the way, the band turn out to be annoyingly rather good. I guess when you dress as Hobbits and get bricks thrown at you by the general public of Essex a lot, then you need something to surprise people and cut down the number of trips to A&E on busy Saturday nights and yes, being good will cut it. Roast Mode: disengaged.

Almost. Because let’s face it the world does not need another Power Metal Concept fantasy album with pomptastic keyboards trying to sound like a full orchestra, or another ten minute epic closer called ‘Avalon’, not unless there’s something else of note going on. Fortunately there is.

What surprises is some of the performances delivered here. Vocalist Matthew Corry is astoundingly good and a little research shows is actually a classically trained tenor, who likes proper music (and milk). Our very own resident roaster Rory often defines Power Metal vocalists as “Swedish blokes who’ve decided they have to sing high and sound like they’re shitting a porcupine”, but this is not what you’ve got here. What we do have is a subtle and controlled performance from the kind of singer that would have the operatic lady at Charismatic Voice on YouTube gush with joy (I love the way the internet has transformed her from a Classical expert to a lover of Metal in a few short months). 

Then there’s the guitar work. It looks like the two guitarists Sam Browne and Brad Wosko know their onions too, as there’s some absolutely beautiful and fluid playing going on here. Although I dearly want to tear this band a new arsehole for using all the Power Metal cliches and endless Neo-Classical tropes, the annoying gits generally avoid them, instead delivering a pacey, innovative and utterly shredding performance. The production is top notch too and it would have to be, as Corry is not a Power screamer and his subtlety is what makes it work. I would however suggest they expand their repertoire with a full time bassist and keyboard player of equal skill, as these are the bits that sound stereotypical, and are clearly someone else in the band doubling up during recording.

I guess the opening quote comes in as relevant once again, as it’s clear that these boys are paying homage to the Euro Cheese Gods of Power, but they’re doing it in a uniquely British, subtly deferential and apologetic way. That means the cheese is there for sure, but the record is also saying “Apologies for the cheese, but actually we’re rather good musicians. Sorry”. I didn’t want to like this, but I could not help myself… Sorry…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Until The Fires Die
02. Atlas
03. Glory Days
04. Oak And Ash
05. Hearts Upon The Hill
06. Scars And Shrapnel Wounds
07. The Hours of Wintertime
08. Glint
09. The Saint Beyond The River
10. Silhouette
11. Still Enough
12. Avalon

LINE-UP:
Matthew Corry – Vocals
Sam Browne – Guitar
Brad Wosko – Guitar
Callum Tuffen – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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