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Solitude and Suicide - 69%

hypnoticdirgerecords, November 12th, 2009

Throwing your hat into the depressive black metal ring when some of your fellow countrymen are arguably the most sublime and towering exponents of the sub-genre is incredibly brave, but then again, there’s no reason for one small group to set the tone for a nation, and, beyond that, no reason for geographical boundaries to dictate a style. All of which is positive for Canada’s Funeral Fornication, the project of solo artist Vultyrous, who treads a markedly different melancholic path to those trailblazers way over the other side of the country in Quebec. Different, but with the potential to be just as special.

"Solitude and Suicide" is Vultyrous’ third full-length under the FF banner, and although problems with labels have prevented widespread release and exposure, he’s not exactly a stranger around here, having contributed guitars and vocals to Artep’s "Black War" EP (the lady herself turns up here as a passable sound engineer). The eeriness and ferocity of his work on that release is immediately in evidence here. Whilst opener "Mother of Peril" is a little lateral, despite boasting a rather majestic riff and some very cold atmospherics, the fear that thing are going to be a bit samey is instantly dispelled by "The Weeping Tree", which begins in skittering ambience before building up into a sub-zero stomp with massive presence and a powerful dark melody, that speaks to the listener rather than overawing with bombast. Although synths are used to bolster the main movement beautifully, all of Funeral Fornication’s tracks have razor-sharp edges that defy any definition as gentle or passive.

Important to the hostile outlook are Vultyrous’ vocals, a tortured, distorted howl that occasionally tips over the edge and becomes plain uncomfortable (which is, of course, a compliment). The snowstorm guitars and stalking bass give a sense of connectedness with black metal’s roots, particularly during the monotone economy of "Veils of Ice", whilst the logical yet artistic structuring of the tracks allows for horror and misery to be built in with ease. If I had a complaint, it would be aimed towards the programmed drums; I understand that these are often a necessity to the solo artist, and they do improve as the album goes on, but they make a poor first impression.

If you like things dark, depressive and evocative with a firm rooting within the traditions of black metal, Funeral Fornication are definitely one to add to your list; flashes of cunning, gutsy guitars, unleashed dissonance and a deep and ominous presence combine into something that at times can raise the hair on your neck, and it feels as if Vultyrous is only just getting started in terms of inventiveness and vision. A more clear-cut and unique sound seems destined to emerge from the potential here - stick with him and I’ve a notion that he’ll take you somewhere horribly desolate. And that you’ll like it.