without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Funeral is a band that I have kept tabs on for the past several years and really come around to appreciate their discography as a whole. Though their line-up has changed pretty severely over time, the band's trademark sound has always consisted of an extremely slow and stoic brand of doom metal. As this album followed the suicide of Einar Andre Fredriksen, the songwriting duties were passed on solely to Kjetil Ottersen and Anders Eek, reflecting a significant change in style. As I had been a big fan of the band's early material with female vocals (those albums being Tragedies and In Fields of Pestilent Grief), I initially found it difficult to get into the more modern, goth-drenched sound of this album. However, it's grown on me over time, and I see it now as being a pretty excellent slice of dreary melodic doom.
Those who find Type O Negative's music to be too ironic and humorous will perhaps be an ideal audience for this album, as I find it is much like what would happen if World Coming Down were to have an existential crisis after taking a bit too much Valium. It's extremely cold, monotonous, and jaded sounding, though it's filled with a pristine atmosphere and loads of soothing melodies. The rhythms guitars are tuned down to an earth-shaking, almost industrialized tone, while the leads float and drone along quietly. Pianos and clean guitars trickle along in the background from time to time, while an orchestral sounding synthesizer swells among the chords and adds this kind of wintry and rainy feel which suits the utterly joyless ensemble. The percussion section is very crisp and clean sounding, but is placed pretty far in the background, restricted to sparse and repetitive patterns. The song structures are pretty simplistic as well, mostly following "verse-chorus-verse-chorus" patterns, in which the refrains tend to be heavier and more emotional than the verses. As I stated before, this album sounds very modern, more so than any of the other albums in the band's selection. While the earlier releases had sort of a primitive Medieval grimness to them, there is a very mechanical and urban bleakness here that I find isn't frequently heard in doom metal (aside from the sludgy kind, of course). The lyrics consist mostly of societal issues and a disdain for organized religion, as opposed to the morbid tales of burials and decay, which the earlier releases sang of. This appropriately reflects the stark cover art and the sound of the music as well; each song has this sort of bitter attitude of "the world is turning to crap, religion is a sham, and I'm going to die soon".
The vocals are a real make-or-break aspect to the music, as Frode Forsmo's droning baritone voice is very much an acquired taste. His singing alternates between more melodic sounding croons and ultra deep, robotic sounding choral sections. It lacks the more sensual and emotional vibes that one may hear from the likes of singers like Aaron Stainthorpe or Peter Steele, and perhaps is most relatable to the sultry cleans of Garm from Ulver. His voice really shines on the quieter moments of the album, in which he sings more mid-range and carries gentler melodies, such as the verses of the title track or the refrain of 'Pendulum'. More often than not, his voice is heavily layered, with three or four layers of his voice creating sort of a faux Gregorian effect. I get the impression that, with the latter, the band was trying to resurrect the eerie monk chants that haunted their monstrous Tristesse album, but I feel that they didn't succeed in this aspect. It's a bit too inhuman and emotionless for the otherwise heartbroken and atmospheric sound of the music. Forsmo's voice also has a bit of an accent to it, to which he occasionally mispronounces words and exaggerates certain consonants (for example, rolling his R's on words like 'credence'). This could potentially be bothersome to a few, but I find it to be a pretty minor flaw.
As it can be imagined, those who suffer from any sort of depressive disorder or are enduring some kind of hardship in their lives should stay far away from this album. Though it doesn't quite reach the blatantly suicidal depths of bands like Worship or Silencer, it is still horribly downbeat and has the potential to make one feel mopey for the rest of the day. My suggestion would be to give it a spin on a rainy or foggy morning with a cup of coffee, and to try to listen more thoroughly to the guitar and keyboard melodies than the vocals. Aside from the previous comparison to TON, I could also say that this album has some shades of goth/alternative-era Katatonia, albeit much heavier and slower. Fans of modern romantic doom like Draconian and Swallow the Sun will surely find something to appreciate within the album as well. Overall, I find From These Wounds to be a quintessential release of gothic/doom metal, worthy of being ranked among the bands who initially created the style back in the early-90's.
Standout tracks: This Barren Skin, Red Moon, Pendulum
Funeral has been like so many of the bands on the archives, miss categorized. This band played Doomdeath Metal, not Funeral Doom. On this album we see them shedding the Death Metal aspect of their sound (i.e. the vocals) and going for a more straight forward Doom Metal sound that is surprisingly original and unique.
The production is alright for what it is. The guitars are thick and heavy. There are some incredibly good ideas here and they're mostly explored to their fullest. There are tons of leads interwoven into the dense rhythms. Some of the leads are fairly complex and only add a beautiful contrast to the slow, plodding mood. There is also a fair amount of melody to be found as well.
The bass follows the guitars a bit too much for its own good. The drums on the other hand are minimalistic genius as Eek throws some very unique polyrhythms in to this bleak atmosphere (he's a very underrated drummer). There are some keyboards thrown in the mix as well adding to the background of the atmosphere at hand. Also it is used for some intros and outros.
The vocals can be considered the biggest of contention for most listeners. The vocals are mostly processed cleans that are very deep and bass oriented. The singers’ voice (when not processed) sound more mid-ranged than baritone this isn't a bad thing however as the lows work well but they do drag on after a bit causing a bit of a Gothic feel to the music. They lyrics are about loss and death mostly.
This is possibly the bands best effort to date as it shows them coming into their own. This is a very stylized and ambitious album that is something for those on the slower end of the spectrum. There are a lot of beautiful and intense moments here coupled with professional minded song writing. The musicianship is excellent and the band can only go up from here.
Funeral is a Norwegian Doom Metal band that's been around for ages now. Contemporaries of Paradise Lost and Anathema but coming from across the channel, the band was one of the first to use female vocals and orchestration which has become almost mandatory these days.
The album starts with some soprano vocals and orchestration before the big opening riff of This Barren Skin opens the album. Funeral, like most European doom metal bands has the unnerving ability to come up with some memorable melodies. While it all sounds quite mournful and melancholy, the melodies stick in your head. Also, the interplay between the heavy doom parts and the softer melodic parts is done superbly. Title song From These Wounds is a mournful dirge of a song but the subtle orchestration and melody gives it a warm almost inviting feel.
Stand out tracks include the awesome opening song This Barren Skin along with the terrific Pendulum, which has some very discordant riffing that fits in well within the band's doom aesthetic and the comparatively short Vagrant God. At the same time, this is not an album where you can pick favourite songs. Like all of the best doom metal albums around, it's the collective whole that either works or doesn't and From These Wounds is an album that is packed with the kind of songs that should encourage mass suicide but is so damn beautiful at the same time that I don't think anyone's going to be reaching for a razor.
Musically at first glance the band seem to have a bit of a similarity with the early 2000's sound of the Napalm Records roster and over produced goth metal acts like Tristania and The Sins Of Thy Beloved. This though is only a surface similarity in that Funeral have the same kind of classical melodies but otherwise scant little in common with those bands. While stalwarts of the genre like Solitude Aeturnus and Anathema do get referenced, From These Wounds is a very European album. The feeling of melancholy and mournful clean singing, the melodic guitar parts and the symphonic touches are all reminiscent of Lacrimus Profundere's classic Memorandum album. At the same time, I have to say that by eschewing the use of female vocals, the band has managed to create an album that is similar in feel but far superior to Memorandum.
Tragedy struck the band shortly after the release of the album with the vocalist being found dead in his apartment thus casting a question mark over the future of this band. Still, From These Wounds is a terrific doom metal album that the band can be proud of and if you like doom metal even just a little bit, then this album is as essential as it can get.
It is 9:20PM (EST) and I'm sitting drinking a can of Old Country Lemonade. I decide, "Yes, it's time for a review." First review that comes to mind: Funeral - From These Wounds. A slower mix of metal with some dark groan-and moan vocals... and it's a male singer.
My first impression was, "What the f**k were these Norwegian guys thinking?" Then I remembered back to a trip I took in April, right before I got out of college. I met a cool Norwegian guy named Lars. He was attending the college I was visiting and was a badass of all sorts. We talked randomly about music and the internet, and I remember that he hit me with a strange tad-bit about music (well mainly metal). It was something along the lines of "It's not that you are American and you are stupid, but it's just that [metal] from Europe isn't so much about proving who is the bigger ass, but about just making music that isn't shitty pop." And I was f**king blown away. Sure, it doesn't sound so cool, but you have to understand that this was coming from a severely conservative Norwegian and it was out of the damned blue. My story leads to my reasoning for liking Funeral a bit more. Why?
As I said, I was a bit confused on where Funeral was coming from with this album. I mean, everything is drone-y and the vocals are outright groans with the occasional annunciation. After a few listens, I got what it meant. Things were way more epic than I first had thought. Everything progresses further and further into this march-like calm where it all flows out right until the end.
Sadly this is every single song on the album. Although hypnotic and very much worth the listen, you can only be a drone for so long in life before you have the inkling to ask why, stop, and finally look at your surroundings and see what's right and what's wrong (yea, I just made a quasi-existential statement). Outside of the constant "doom" of the music, the lyrics seem to be strands of some book written by a political outcast or perhaps The Man without a Face.
Pros and cons weighed, I'll give this my Roman thumbs up, but barely. Although the music is well worth the listen, I bet there will be a time where I'll decide that this album is a pile of shit and will destroy it (by taking it off my iPod) because it drags on for so damn long. Hooray for Norway , all for throwing a doom metal-leaning at me and making me like it! For now at least…
Heres is the truth plain and simple. Doom metal bands can not change their sound successfully, Anathema has abandoned their doom metal roots completly, Paradise Lost are in a world of their own and have been failing miserably to release anything as good as they have in the early nineties for quite some time and My Dying Bride are slowly progressing into something great, but its not too certain how long they can go on for. While being a huge fan of Doom of many kinds, the depressing and melancholy side of things has become tiered and boring, this is the doomed and gloomed opinion I had on this genre before I heard the Fathers of Funeral Dooms latest album, and this really is a must have album.
Forget any other Doom singer you have heard that creates a 'depressing' atmosphere in the music, I can bet my bottom dollar Frode Forsmo will make you weep, his voice is the highlight of the album. From These Wounds starts off with the single 'This Barren Skin' which is a fantastic song, mixing up operatic interludes, with long Doom riffs, acoustic guitar and wet like industrial strong heavy distorted riffs, the guitar work here is phenomenal, each note is played with heart and soul and has very much variety. To state the best parts of a 100% review really is defeating the purpose, but this album must be heard! the haunting lyrics and completly twisted ending of Pendulum is something that must be heard by every fan of metal simply for the originality, an expolsion of eerie electric layered guitar riffs...I have heard nothing like it, the musicianship here is unreal. Vagrant God starts off suprisingly 'happy' sounding and it is amazing how the mood of the upbeat sound is completly crushed with heartache as Frode lets out a low and emotional moan, you really cant get better than this is what I thought, but then that track is followed by the most depressing thing I have ever heard, which is the verse to Pendulum, you can not help but have the strength to lift your jaw up from the ground and wipe the tears from your eyes.
By no means is this Funeral Doom Metal, this is a band that have done something huge to Doom Metal in the past, and a band that sure as hell will be doing the same in the future, forget the disgrace that is Swallow The Sun with their metalcore sound with mediocre keyboards and horrendous clean vocals, and other Boring moder Doom bands such as Novembers Doom etc, this is a moder Doom Metal Masterpiece, every second is a highlight, and wipes the floor with any competition in the year of 2006.
Credit must be giving when it is due, this is obviously an album that Funeral made for themselves, the popularity in the death grunt has grown alot in the past 2 years and ladies and gentleman....not one grunt or scream is to be heard on this album, and trust me, going by Minas Tirith, Frode can scream! I dont want to go into the controversy that happened before the release because obviously Funeral wanted this album to be released so we can hear the outstanding music they have created, and although those two musicians will be missed, they could not be any fucking prouder having created this.