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Textbook Funeral Doom - 70%

dystopia4, May 13th, 2013

This is pretty much as by the book as you can get for funeral doom. While the second album would show a much greater penchant for experimentation, this harnesses the tropes of the genre and executes them in a highly proficient manner. Does this lead to a great release? Nah, not really. The problem is, while this is a good example of what the genre represents as a whole, it really comes off as a middle of the road type affair. Sure, the productions quite good, better than your average funeral doom, but this is still just that - average. It's a decent release for sure, but it just doesn't have much distinguishing it from the next record of it's ilk.

This is exactly what you'd think of when it's style is mentioned - lots of ethereal keyboards, deep growls, snail-paced riffs, eerie crawling leads and plodding drum work with much emphasis on the cymbals. The rhythm guitar is largely just there, with the high-in-the-mix keyboards often garnering more attention. Occasionally a subtle tremolo riff will come into play. The more mid paced chugs are much better than your average riff here - they jump out of the background, creating a feeling of menace not present when the chugging is absent. The leads are about the same as you'd expect from the next competent funeral doom band. (And let's be honest, competency is not such a lofty goal in this style). The drums, possessing a nice clear tone, trudge along, lots of cymbals complimenting bass drum to snare patterns. They do what they're supposed to do - no more, no less. If not a tad generic, the keyboards are pretty nice. They add atmosphere, like you'd expect, although a more or less played-out one. I would call them otherworldly if I was a newcomer to the genre, but I've heard the same sort of thing so many times that it isn't the tiniest bit foreign or enchanting.

Periodically a more interesting passage will jut out from the gloom. The band successfully integrates the occasional piano passage. This is first apparent in "To Kiss The Emptiness...", where it manages to be simultaneously creepy and beautiful. However, the only true standout moment of this release rears it's head at the end of "Apostasy". While the standard ethereal synth still loiters in the background, there are two things that make this part the absolute highlight of the album. At this point the metal has dropped out completely. Some keys start replicating droning brass instruments - this absolutely foreshadows the adventurous nature of the subsequent release. The brass samples are what initially drew me to Tragedy And Weeds. Choppy classical-inspired piano is shortly added to the mix. This truly is the only part of the release that points to something more. Because of it's ending, "Apostasy" should have been the last track on the album. The end to "Liquid Dimension Change" is pretty damn anticlimactic. And, honestly, these tracks could be re-arranged any which way and the album would still sound the same.

Perhaps I'm being needlessly harsh with this album - it takes a pre-concieved sound and manifests it in an undeniably competent manner. However, it's hard to listen to this and not think of how tame, restrained and ultimately pedestrian it is compared to the record which would follow. Tragedy And Weeds is an album worth mentioning alongside the greats of funeral doom. These beginnings are no doubt humble, yet there really is nothing to actively hate or even vaguely dislike here. If you are looking for a good all around representation of what the better produced side of funeral doom has to offer, well, here you have it. If you are looking for some of the best funeral doom has to offer, skip this first attempt and go directly to the sophomore.