Extreme metal is more often associated with dissonant cacophony than harmonious euphony, so it’s always surprising when the poster child for English phonaesthetics, the phrase ‘Cellar Door,’ adds its two cents to the conversation. While the majority of listeners might recognize the phrase from Donnie Darko, the phenomenon goes much further back than that and counts literary luminaries like Tolkien amongst its adherents.
If anyone were to effectively balance the two poles of sensation, however, who better than Spiritbox? “Cellar Door,” off the upcoming EP The Fear of Fear (just in time for Halloween), does exactly that, meshing the visceral dissonance of frontwoman Courtney LaPlante’s impassioned screams (sans the clean delivery made famous on prior singles like “Rule of Nines”) with the duo’s trademark melodic take on metalcore.
The Orie McGuiness-directed video has all the visual hallmarks of a very high-end affair; something more in keeping with mainstream musical offerings than extreme metal. Even Courtney’s multiple wardrobes reflect a couture sensibility far beyond the band merch and ripped jeans the subculture would expect. The warm leaf texture that closes the video is also positioned in opposition to the black-and-blue palette of the remainder of the song (and, coincidentally, with the video for “Jaded,” the single released in August).
The track itself is bursting with studio trickery, but the post-production effects and strong electronica presence provide a delicate counterpoint to the groove metal chug driving the assault, once again reinforcing the phonestheme aesthetic, built of, as the title intends: a combination of sounds that, in isolation, carry little impact, but once collected impart a sense of all being right with the world. Bravo, Spiritbox, for delivering both a philosophical lesson and a blasting evolution on a genre already rife with boundary-breaking innovation from the likes of Kim Dracula, Lorna Shore or Ghøstkid.
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: October 13, 2023