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Those words, ripped straight from the first track, "Whispering Gloom," fully encapsulate the sound and atmosphere this album brings to the table. In 1999 funeral doom duo Max Varnier (a.k.a. Fucked-Up Mad Max) and Daniel Pharos (The Doommonger) released what is, in my opinion, not only the best funeral doom album written, but also my personal favorite album of all time. Unfortunately Varnier would go on to commit suicide in 2001 leaving this album, an unparalleled view into the deepest darkness you can imagine, as the mark he left on the world.
Funeral doom strikes me as a genre that seems easy to execute, yet difficult to master. By its nature it calls for very slow, often times monotonous riffs to build the atmosphere over a long time. As such, there's an incredibly fine line between effective funeral doom and downright boring funeral doom. Luckily, Worship is easily the former. Being a demo actually works to its advantage here. The rhythm guitars have a very thunderous rawness to them. They build the template for often mournful crawling of the lead guitar. While many funeral doom bands often add layers of instruments such as piano, violins, etc. Worship have instead opted to keep the music down to the bare minimum, save for a short piano interlude in "Whispering Gloom." The atmosphere is so thick that even the seconds in between riffs help to craft that oppressive feeling funeral doom is known for. Whispering Gloom is definitely the song where the guitars shine the most in the album. The lead at the end of the song is what I imagine it would sound like if guitars could weep.
Varnier contributed the drums and vocals for this album. The drums are very servicable, never really taking center stage at any point. The vocals however, are some of the best vocals you'll find in funeral doom, and extreme metal as a whole in my opinion. In general, Varnier's vocals are low, gutteral growls, but very emotive. They carry a very tired and defeated feel to them. There are also brief moments of clean singing found at the beginning of "Solicide and the Dawning of the Moonkult" and in "Eclipse of Sorrow." They tend to sound like a pained chant. You'll also find moments in which the lyrics are whispered directly to you, most notably during a portion of "Whispering Gloom." The previously mentioned "Solicide and the Dawning of the Moonkult" are where Varnier's vocals really shine. In the beginning, he employs a type of growl that is insanely effective, yet one I find incredibly hard to accurately describe. It's certainly higher than his usual vocals, but never enters the territory of being a shriek. It's still very much a "growl." It does however sound even more pained than the rest on the album, and almost a bit airy. The sorrow is further exemplified by the fact that the only other instrument played at that moment is a very soft, somber, acoustic guitar.
Lyrically the album deals with themes of nihilism, depression, anger, misanthropy, and suicidal thoughts. The lyrics are sung in English, French, and German throughout the album. I did have to look up the translations as I'm not fluent in French or German, but I can say that the lyrics are fantastic. They strike me as incredibly genuine and at no point did I get the feeling that they were contrived (a feeling I unfortunately get often from this genre). They mesh perfectly with the sorrow of the music.
The final track, Worship, is where it all comes together. If suicide had a soundtrack, this would probably be it, for me at least. The longest track on the album, it combines all of the key aspects of every track before it into what I consider to be the perfect funeral doom song. It starts off with what may be the most pained scream I've heard in music to date. Then the mournful leads kick in while Varnier sings of how we can never escape. A lengthy acoustic interlude takes place a little more than halfway through and from there the song starts to rebuild itself. The thunderous riffs begin over the acoustic guitars still playing. Whispered vocals sneak in the crash of each riff. Then, finally, Varnier's growls come back in and take control. He ends the album with the lines "Now we have to pay with our lives/ Kill yourself and worship." The guitars then deconstruct themselves into ambient noise before finally fading entirely.
This album is very dark and very depressing. You may want to be wary of listening to it while in a depressed mindset. Depending on who you are as a person, and how you react to music like this, it could drag you deeper down emotionally, or it could be very cathartic. This album is a dark journey that you need to be in the right mood for, but if you live through the whole thing, you'll be counting down the days until you get to experience it all over again.
Updated: Fixed some typos and grammatical errors.
On Last Tape Before Doomsday, Worship present the listener with four long songs of unrelenting funeral doom. Focusing on a similar wavelength to the band Thergothon, Last Tape Before Doomsday sees the band creating highly minimalistic and droning songs with a heavy emphasis on atmosphere, resulting in one of the most depressing albums within the metal scene.
Last Tape Before Doomsday is fairly typical by funeral doom standards, a down tuned, distorted guitar churns out long drawn out notes whilst a vocalist spits out low, incomprehensible growl mixed with the odd spoken word section. There’s not much in the way of dynamics, rather the variation between tracks comes from the mood each one successfully employs. From the depressed rumbling of the first two tracks, to the more sinister, foreboding yet still inhumanly crash of the last two tracks, Last Tape Before Doomsday successfully employs a myriad of moods to ensure that the music is kept interesting.
Funeral doom is a genre that prizes minimalism much more than other forms of metal and therefore aspects such as song writing become really important. It’s all well and good playing dirge like hymns to depression but if your song writing isn’t up to scratch then the results become lackluster. Worship on the other hand displays a strong sense of song writing far above what most funeral doom bands can hope to accomplish. The transitions between each section of the music runs smoothly, acoustic interludes never feel out of place, being a logical evolution of each track. Unlike most funeral doom, the songs on this album are in a constant state of evolution, never letting one musical idea grow stagnant, Worship move along each aspect of the music with a sense of determination. The spoken word sections work on a similar wavelength to the acoustic interludes, serving to break up the heavier sections of the music whilst still remaining consistent with the goals and general aesthetics of the music at hand.
Whilst minimalism should never be a means in on itself, Worship work incredibly well in an exclusively minimalistic, droning template. The riffs are really freaking huge, with one of the most powerful guitar tones known to man. The vocals are incredibly deep, powerful and expressive, whilst there isn’t much energy behind them, sounding tired and drawn out, they are incredibly effective and work incredibly well with the down tuned distorted riffs. The production is immaculate, each instrument is giving ample room to breathe, with the bass being audible, creating destructive undercurrents underneath the brutal waves of guitar, whilst the occasional washes of piano add even more ambiance and depth to the music.
Last Tape Before Doomsday presents a rawness that few can match, the music has been stripped to its bare necessities removing any and all unnecessary elements. Unlike many modern funeral doom bands who have incorporated female vocals and bombastic keyboards in an effort to make their sound pretty, Worship have done the exact opposite. This is how funeral doom was meant to sound, really thick, distorted guitars churning out drone after drone with very little, if any variation present. With Last Tape Before Doomsday, Worship has tapped into the darkest regions of the human psyche and have constructed an album that presents the most naked and pure representation of mental torment. Essentially some of the most extreme doom metal you will hear, Last Tape Before Doomsday comes highly recommended as an example of how to correctly play this style of music.
Spawned within the German underground in the late '90s, Worship emerged onto the funeral doom scene with a very monumental recording. Originally released on cassette, in limited numbers, Last Tape Before Doomsday made an impact like few others. It has been reissued on a variety of formats, with the name changing accordingly, since it was first heard in April 1999. It goes to show just how important this is, that several labels have made sure to keep it alive and available, throughout the past decade or so.
Containing only four songs, this demo still manages to clock in at over 46 minutes, which is average length for an L.P. The material does well to uphold the traditions set forth by bands like Thergothon and Skepticism, while also taking some influence from the likes of Bethlehem and Mournful Congregation. In a sense, this takes the whole concept of funeral doom to a new extreme, with the majority of the material crawling at such a deathlike pace that it may tax the listener's patience. However, for that very reason, it is best to listen to this when you are actually in the right mood, rather than just tossing it in casually. The songwriting is very primitive and minimalist, with so little going on at times that the slightest change makes that much more of an impact. Each song features a lot of subtle changes, while rarely straying too far from the main theme. To experience Worship's Last Tape Before Doomsday is to die a slow death, being tortured the entire time. Just hearing the anguished vocals of Max Varnier, combined with the mournful riffs and the oppressive atmosphere, is to suffer in torment. The gloomy melodies have a way of reaching deep within you and pulling all of the misery and sorrow of an entire lifetime right up to the surface, to be felt at full force once more. This is most evident on the song “Solicide and the Dawning of the Moonkult”, which has to be the most effective and memorable piece of music on this release. From the very beginning, the dismal riffs and life-weary vocals drain the energy right out of you and leave you eagerly awaiting a swift death. And yet the end will not be painless. The utter despair that grips you is unlike anything that you have ever known, and you are imbued with an inescapable hopelessness. As the music slowly progresses, additional riffs are gradually introduced, along with quieter acoustic bits that hearken back to Bethlehem's prime. There is something epic about the arrangements, yet this is no fantasy trip that you are taken on. This is an involuntary journey through pitch-black darkness and the ultimate realization that there is no purpose for the horror and misery that you feel deep within. You begin to see the world for what it really is, and a powerful longing to leave this life behind grows inside of you. Just as you think that you may be able to tolerate it and to persevere, it intensifies and lays waste to what little resolve you still possessed.
While the first two songs may be more depressing and recall heartbreaking moments of absolute melancholy, the second half of the album builds upon this in an unexpected way. While the approach is still very much the same, with the songs slowly crawling from the blackness, the riffs convey more of a bleak feeling that goes beyond personal tragedies and agonizing memories. There is something more sinister and all-encompassing about “Eclipse of Sorrow”, in particular. In this case, it may be that there is a more direct link to the underlying malevolence that lies at the root of all insurmountable afflictions. This is where the record manages to avoid simply being a one-dimensional batch of depressing tunes, and still calls forth to the primordial evil that waits in the dark shadows, ever-watchful. While the final melodies of “Whispering Gloom” slice into your flesh and begin the wretched bloodbath, “Worship” is more of a reminder than no one will even be around to mourn your loss and that it was all for nothing. You remember just how insignificant you are, and that your immeasurable suffering is as meaningless as the rest of your pitiful existence.
"There will never be a dawn again
Our darkness has begun"
As one would expect from a demo, this is pretty under-produced. It is, by no means, as necro as a lot of demo-quality black metal, but it possesses a rawness that truly suits the atmosphere and the songwriting, giving it a stronger sense of of genuineness that would have been lost if these songs had been recorded in an expensive studio. Though the compositions are very strong, that would have rendered them rather stale. Thankfully, Worship got just the right sound for this. The guitars are suffocating, the bass is audible enough to add a layer of woe to the proceedings, while the vocals and drums are leveled-off enough to keep them from overpowering the soul-crushing riffs. The guitar tone is flawless, working well to emphasize the miserable melodies, enabling them to instantly drain the energy from your body and to give you a disturbing sinking feeling. There is enough clarity to hear what is going on, at all times, but not so much that the music would lose something.
For fans of funeral doom, that have not yet heard this, you are doing yourself a disservice. Worship has not made as much of a name for themselves as they should have, partially due to Max's suicide in 2001, but what the band has released is on par with anything else that the sub-genre has to offer. If you are annoyed with the older death / doom releases for not being grim enough, or the ever-flowing stream of doom bands that incorporate too many romantic elements in an effort to create something 'pretty', Last Tape Before Doomsday is certainly for you. Now, listen to this and then kill yourself.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
When you've got a genre that's as minimalistic and hard to listen to as funeral doom, things like songwriting become really important. There's a fine line in this genre between oppressively slow, and just plain boring. Again, that's where songwriting comes in. The more interesting funeral bands are fairly repetitive, sure, but there's enough subtle variation to keep you interested.
Luckily, Worship are one of the more interesting bands in this genre. In fact, I would even describe this band as "Entertaining". Surprising, I know!
Yeah, it's hard to pick faults with this band. Worship do indeed excel at the usual crushing funereal riffs- pick any song, it will have some brutal downtuned riffs- but it's the other parts to this album that make this album so much better then most of it's genre. Solicide and the dawning of the Moonkult has a terrible song title, but there's some real nice clean guitar work, some ghostly clean vocals, and some simple but very effective lead work. Worship (the song) has a very tasteful and effective use of clean guitars, bells and a choir echoing in the background, along with some strange whispered vocals. And then there's the Godflesh-like guitar riff in Eclipse of Sorrow. Blasphemy!
Of course, all the experimentation in the world isn't going to help if the songs don't have some huge, lava-flow riffing. And this is probably where Worship really excels. It's kind of redundant to say that "the guitars are really distorted and really, really downtuned" but seriously, they are. Whoever produced this knew his funeral doom. I've never heard a more powerful guitar tone. Good riffs? Well, Whispering Gloom is chock full of them, as is Solicide. Eclipse of Sorrow takes a slightly different approach, with a slightly faster tempo, and it sounds great too. Everything is just really crushing and huge- what more could be asked for? The drums are, of course, really slow, but there's a bit of variety in them- the generous use of toms, the occaisonal tempo change. May not sound like much, but that little bit of change once in a while can make a band that much better.
Yeah, this is a really damn good album. Worship have created a truly bleak, crushing album, and for once, it's a bleak crushing album that you'll come back to again and again. Funeral Doom fans will love this to death, but I'd also recommend it to people looking for something a bit different.
This is some of the most depressing and sick music I have ever heard in my life! I love it!
Unfortunately, I never got to hear the actual tape release. I’ve only heard the re-release of this album with the additional bonus track, Keep On Selling Cocaine To Angels, taken from their split album with Agathocles. This was one of the first Funeral doom metal albums I had ever listened to. My first one being Shape Of Despair’s Angel’s Of Distress, I do believe. But regardless, this stuck out as possibly one of the best underground doom metal albums ever.
Fucked Up Mad Max was a genius swallowed by depression. And it was that depression that brought us this masterpiece of depressing doom metal. There are not a lot of words to describe the music. You can call it sick, twisted and depressing, but none of them can do this album justice. This is one of those albums that you HAVE to sit down and listen to in order to find out for yourself. But beware; this isn’t an album for the weak of heart. It’s really slow, like you would expect with funeral doom. It’s heavy as fuck, even without the presence of a bass guitar. But most importantly, it’s just depressing.
You get swallowed up by the emotions poured into this album, whether it is by Max’s guttural vocals, or Doommonger’s guitar work. It just swallows you up like a wave and leaves you for dead, floating in the middle of nowhere. It’s just that good. The music itself is relatively simple and very repetitive, but it does the trick. This is not something you’ll want to listen to when you feel you’ve reached the end of the line, or chances are, you’ll end up like Fucked Up Mad Max (R.I.P.)
The guitars on this album are just beautiful. They are heavy as fuck, as I had mentioned. They’re so well and so low that there is no need for bass to provide a low end. Now that’s pretty impressive. The lead work on all of the songs is very minimal, but it’s very, very good. Every time I listen to track one, Whispering Gloom, the little solo/lead during the last minute and a half gets to me every time. It sends shivers down my spine and just kicks my ass into a whole different state of mind. I love music that can have this effect on me, hence why these guys are quite possibly my favorite funeral doom metal band ever.
But not all of the guitar work is low, distorted goodness. Doommonger provides us with some very beautiful clean guitar passages during the songs, which are usually accompanied by Max’s whispers (usually in French) These parts too, also contribute to the depressing feeling you get from listening to this album. It’s just amazing what playing slowly and playing minimally can do to a person.
The drums on this album are your typical funeral doom, or doom metal in general, type drums. They’re in the background, played slowly, and non-existent in parts. Actually, this album would still be amazing even if they never had any drums on it! In some parts, you can barely hear them because of the thick sounding guitars blaring through the speakers. Not much can be said about the drums though except, you won’t find any technical parts on this album.
The vocals on this album are outstanding as well. They’re low and full of raw emotion. You can tell that Max put everything he had inside into them. They are sick and tortured and just fucking brutal. Max knew exactly what he was doing. He knew the right recipe for making bleak and depressing music. And it was so affective that his music is actually blamed for his suicide. It’s sad, because he was a genius. In my opinion, he made some of the best Funeral doom metal that the world has ever had the pleasure of hearing.
But as mentioned before, Max doesn’t just do guttural growling vocals. He adds another element with the whispered vocals during some of the verses, if you can call them verses. And usually the whispered parts are in French, like a nice portion of the lyrics on this album are. But this doesn’t turn me away because I’ve studied French in high school for nearly 9 years, so I can comprehend them without great difficulty. There are even a few German lyrics on this album too, well, with the band being from Germany and all. :P
But nonetheless, this album is definitely for those who enjoy the funeral doom genre and those who are not afraid to experience a new level of torture.
“Kill yourself and Worship...” (R.I.P. Max Varnier)
I'm one of those who were lucky enough to listen this group before the suicide of Max. I had never heard of them before, (they had just released their first and only demo) but it was very clear that they weren't like the other bands out there. What I mean is that they had a very extreme attitude, and you can see that in their music. Music without attitude is like beer without alcohol. Unluckily it seems the Doom Metal scene is full of bands that lack of this extreme/underground attitude, and therefore they sound more oriented to the Goth trend than to real depressive and dark shit.
Last Tape Before Doomsday is slow, dark, heavy... and it has an inhume feeling of despair! You won't find female vocals, keyboards or flutes... only some parts of piano were allowed, and they sound extremely simplistic and grim. It's a real pity Max decided to commit suicide, I would have loved to listen more of this band, but hell, with his last act he demonstrated that he was not joking, he really believed in what he did! People into Doom Metal underground should remember this guy in the same way Dead is remembered for Black Metal.
Listen to this if you really love Doom Metal. Those four songs are among the darkest and grimmest things ever made in history.
From the 1st time i heard this release i was struck. this band was amazing. it is a real pity that maxx varnier decided to take his own life as this is how doom metal is supposed to sound. slow, heavy, drone-y in some parts and depressive as fuck. comparable to bands such as thergothon, and mournful congregation. from the moment you press play on your tape deck to the moment the tape finishes. it is obvious a tortured soul is behind this.. standout track for me is definitely Whispering Gloom. even the odd Piano is used. but to great effect. but the whole release is great. i would have liked to hear a lot more from this band but alas. if you ever get the chance to pick this up anywhere do not for a second think twice about it. 4 tracks and almost 50 minutes of pure fucking despair