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Total atmosphere - 60%

gasmask_colostomy, June 13th, 2018

Abysmal Grief is a really overwrought band name, wouldn't you agree? I would have thought so too until I listened to Foetor Funereus Mortuorum, which stinks so much of tombs that there's even a whiff of flowers into the equation. In my mind, this is what Electric Wizard would sound like if they never stopped watching those freaky old horror films and smoking pot, just staying on the couch to record instead of going down to the studio. This Italian four-piece are thunderously heavy and love a bit of organ, which makes these two super-long tracks atmospheric trips into the darkness of the graveyard, just like the front cover warns you.

Granted, those two trips to the graveyard are quite different from one another, the title track packing on the crush of slow guitar riffing and crepuscular vocals that sort of wobble in a weird undead vibrato that I fear with one ear and want to laugh at with the other. The following 'Old Abandoned Tombs' is creepy in a different way, only focusing on ambience and dispensing with the doom metal. 'Foetor Funereus Mortuorum' is thus more of an enticing proposition seeing as the rumble of guitar and keys builds up to an almost epic pitch, before eerie darkness suddenly falls and the band traipse through a long and repetitive section with a guitar melody a lot like the Ghost Tower theme in the original Pokémon games. The chanting in the background does a treat for the atmosphere, though the song really only adds more guitar to the same theme, so that a very large portion of the 17 minutes is spent retreading the same ground. 'Abandoned Tombs' is shorter, bringing the total time of the release to half an hour, but here fears of more repetition give way to doubts that anything particular is happening, the noises echoing through the murk evolving very slowly into clearer and dimmer shapes as the volume ebbs and recedes.

The argument that will decide you on the merits of this release thus centres on whether you believe atmosphere can be the primary objective of good music. Arguably, both pieces are composed only to make you feel like you are present while supernatural happenings take place around you, certainly giving you the willies at various points, though the horror movie keys occasionally remind too specifically of other films or typical traits to have the desired effect. Certainly concerning the second piece there's not much to reward intensive listening, not even making possible the trance-like states beckoned by the title track, which are the most probable draw of "normal" doom fans, if fans of Paul Chain and Electric Wizard can be considered normal. I'm not really sure that there's enough on offer here to make me think that Abysmal Grief needed such a long time and such complete dedication to one aim only to make Foetor Funereus Mortuorum a success - sometimes, the atmosphere just becomes a little tedious.

-- May Diamhea's feat of 100 reviews in 7 days remain unbeaten --