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I’ve often wondered what it would be like to attend an actual funeral as illustrated by a number of black metal bands, with all the obligatory scenery of frost bitten landscapes, fog ridden graveyards and the piercing moon upon the earth. Cemeterium, an independent act hailing from Mexico gave me what could be considered akin to the low-fi, self-produced version of this experience, with a healthy dose of bonus items to go with it. And while the bag being offered is definitely mixed, the strong definitely overshadows the weak and leads one to wonder how much further they could go with a larger sound akin to what was heard on “In The Nightside Eclipse”, which was likely among the many influences at play on their debut “The Fall, The End”.
While the bulk of what is found on here is traditionally informed by the more keyboard rich variant on the early Norwegian paradigm (think Ancient and Emperor), there is a sizable assortment of twists and turns that turn what may appear to be a conventional offering into something a tiny bit more interesting. The first and most obvious tangent that this album runs off on is a rather charming assortment of funeral doom and ambient keyboard passages, mostly dominating the shorter offerings on here and translating into a sort of woeful smaller version of an orchestral performance. The magnum opus in this category is “Contemplation”, which reminds heavily of the typically dense funeral doom style, outlined with a thin texture of ambient noise out of the guitars like a shimmer of starlight amid a sea of moonlight and fog. The instrumentation has something of a classical horror movie feel to it, incorporating church bells and organ sounds alongside the more commonplace synthesized strings and voices.
For the longer, more involved compositions where the conventional black metal is found, a slightly weaker landscape takes hold. Alongside the funeral doom and dense, Ancient inspired keyboard heavy fast passages is a looming specter of an avant-garde sound, probably inspired by the works of Deathspell Omega or a band of a similar persuasion. Ordinary this could work quite nicely, but the thin sounding drum machine track cuts into the atmosphere pretty significantly. Particularly when things go off into a rapid paced blast beat, the slow, droning keyboards and the shimmering tremolo guitar melodies fight with a much lower grade sounding percussion section. When slower, it’s a bit better, but the strongest points of this album generally tend to be when the drums drop out entirely.
Overall this is a pretty competent album, but it feels like it could have been so much better if the drum programming had been given a slightly denser feel to meld it more smoothly in with the predominant keyboard rich atmosphere. Part of it might be that I’ve been prejudiced towards a thicker, reverb-heavy drum sound with a healthy intake of pure funeral doom albums that take this approach, but there is definitely something to be said for keeping the entire arrangement unified. But for anyone who craves a rich atmospheric take two seeming polar opposite styles, this would be worth a listen.