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Back to basics - 65%

we hope you die, September 19th, 2019

There’s still a place in this world for albums that exhibit all of death metal’s nuts and bolts out in the open, for all the world to see. I mean, I talk this album if it were released fairly recently, but alas, 2011 was quite some time ago now. But nevertheless, it fits with a very modern trend of old school revivalism. A more appropriate word would be ‘re-imagining’ maybe, as it takes the very familiar elements of older death metal, but manipulates them into a new take on an old form.

Funerus as an entity do actually hark back to the early 1990s, but their modern incarnation has only been around since the early 2000s. Their second post reformation LP ‘Reduced to Sludge’ (2011) saw them tighten up their very basic approach to doomy death metal. Drums are fat with a vaguely tinny snare which cuts through the mix but does not offer much impact on the slower passages. Guitars follow in the footsteps of Incantation (no surprises there given the clientele), in that they are sharp enough to lend clarity to some of the more complex leads, but with enough power and sustain to carry the doom riffs. Jill McEntee’s gruff vocals cut through perfectly with a balance of menace and clarity, making lyrics of gore and despair perfectly audible.

Musically this sits somewhere between the abstract doom of late Incantation and the more playful Autopsy, particularly in some of the guitar leads. Speed wise it matches mid era Bolt Thrower, and they follow a very similar pattern usually on the opening to a track, with a slow chugging riff set atop mid-tempo drums and pounding double bass underpinning it all. Simple leads will comment on the ringing chords of the rhythm guitar, which will either settle into a full-on breakdown, or pick the tempo up briefly before an ultimate collapse.

This music is very basic, but there are just enough novel ideas to hold one’s interest. Although one can clearly hear two guitars on different tracks, it sounds oddly empty, in a good way. Despite everything making up this music telling us otherwise, this feels lonely, almost mournfully so. It lends a post-apocalyptic sheen to this death metal that so many have aimed for but few succeed in, especially with music that is – as a rule – chaotic. But the apocalypse is happening somewhere over there now, we are left as bystanders to witness it from afar. As opposed to much death metal that throws one into the middle of the chaos, the din of warfare sounds distant but ever present. This aura is aided further by the tinny yet echoing snare. It may be a mere fluke of production and the stop/start nature of their approach to death/doom, but it certainly works to give this otherwise average album an edge.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

Let Them Eat Sludge!!!!!!!!!! - 90%

dismember_marcin, August 22nd, 2012

I must admit that although I knew quite much about Funerus and have read some interviews with the band (obviously the fact that this is the band of McEntee family was not a secret for me… I’ve found out also that none of them were the members of the band back in the early 90’s, when Funerus recorded two demo tapes), I just never had a chance to listen to their debut album, “Festering Earth”. I missed my chance to purchase a copy several times and later, when I finally wanted to do so there were no copies available anywhere. Fuckin irony… So, I definitely didn’t want the same to happen with the second album, “Reduced to Sludge”, and so I got my copy as soon as some have appeared in the distros, where I usually buy my vinyl and CD. Well, I wish I could have “Reduced to Sludge” on vinyl actually, but since there’re no plans to release one at the moment, I am happy to have the CD. And I must also admit that “Reduced to Sludge” turned out to be just exactly as I wished it to be – an excellent, totally devastating piece of old styled death metal. While listening to it, I have nothing to wish for, than just bang my head in frenzy and let those mammoth riffs turn everything around me into dust, so damn heavy this album is.

The main strength of “Reduced to Sludge” is in the riffs. I don’t know if it’s Jill or John, who wrote this material, but damn – those riffs are just excellent. They’re all brutal as fuck, very heavy and massive and Funerus plays most of their material in slow, sometimes almost doomy tempo, but do not avoid cutting some throats with uncompromising, faster parts… What I really like though about the whole material from “Reduced to Sludge” is how memorable and catchy, how incredibly infectious those riffs are. I mean once I hear such tunes as “Death of a God” or “The Comfort in Depression”, then there’s no way back and I just need to growl with Jill and bang my head to every damn note they play. I didn’t really realize how strong this material is until I actually have heard it. You know, I worship Incantation just like everybody else, but I dare to say that “Reduced to Sludge” is really much better than some of the last full lengths from Incantation! Yeah, I know it sounds like a hypocrisy and I am not saying that I don’t like “Primordial Damnation” or “Blasphemy” – they’re very good albums, but none of them has affected and massacred me as much as “Reduced to Sludge” did. This is very powerful album, 100% death metal and I find it as almost perfect. The production is just amazing, very energetic, very aggressive and relatively clean for this sort of playing and I must also admit that while I had no idea what to expect from Jill’s performance, once I have heard her voice I must consider her to be the best female death metal vocalist ever! Of corpse no one need to agree with this and there will probably be many, who will say it’s Lori Bravo or Sharon Bascovsky better, but my feeling at the moment is that Mrs McEntee has done the best work as the female death metal growler ever.

So, you can see that I feel a lot of passion and enthusiasm for “Reduced to Sludge”. It is one of those albums that stick with you once you hear them. There’s no need for mathematic explanations to find out how many riffs Funerus play per song, how times they break the speed of light or whatever. This is pure old school death metal and I must recommend it totally to all those, who enjoy being putrefied by the sounds of Incantation (obviously), a bit of Bolt Thrower and Obituary but maybe even more by the good old Asphyx, whose influence is quite big I think. Whatever… Oh, by the way, really cool front artwork! “Let them eat sludge!”.
Standout tracks: “Death of a God”, “The Comfort in Depression”, “Reduced to Sludge”

Funerus - Reduced to Sludge - 75%

ThrashManiacAYD, November 23rd, 2011

As an indication of the music within, "Reduced to Sludge" is as apt a title I've come across in quite some time. Filthy, crusty bludgeoning death metal is the order of the day from Funerus, the band featuring Incantation honcho John McEntee, rather unusually, his wife Jill, and Sam Inzerra on their second album. Perhaps not surprisingly Incantation are a useful reference point as the deep sore throat vocals and down-tuned riffing bear similarities to the main band, though the battering feel of Bolt Thrower and Hail of Bullets give Funerus a slightly more approachable edge than that doomed and disgusting variant and the result is a commendably solid 33 minute release.

Much longer than this timeframe and the ceaseless fiery assault would have become tiresome but with the lack of variation that is present the short sharp burst tactic works well. With no bullshit pretences of reinventing the wheel, anything from "Time Of Death" through "Death Of A God" and the title track offer ceaseless vindication of the strength in an unaltered death metal sound at a time when the current vogue is for bands to insert brainless breakdowns in place of riffs and natural brutality. As seen best in "E. Histolytica" Funerus are adept at the slow, yet still undeniably crushing riffing, which pleases I for such moments always serve to better emphasise the speed found elsewhere. Watch how it is melded into the remainder of the song and learn why even an uncomplicated structure can reap dividends over the far more mathematically complex fragments of modern death metal.

The ambition here is not great enough to see "Reduced to Sludge" pushing the really top marks but in it's satisfyingly solid and unapologetic nature I find myself applauding surely one of the better death metal releases this year alongside the equally obtuse Autopsy. Let’s hear it for the old-school.

Originally written for

Exit sewer left - 75%

autothrall, November 22nd, 2011

Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch over yet ANOTHER of these retro old school death metal acts to emerge, know that this particular act, Funerus has been around for over 20 years now, producing a string of demos in the early 90s and then calling it quits until such as a time as they resurfaced with Festering Earth in 2003. So, this is not some newfangled cluster of crypt-dwellers, but an already established act with much collective experience. One of the other original members, Brad Heiple has since left the band, but Jill and John McEntee forge on here with drummer Sam Inzerra of Mortician and Morpheus Descends, to produce what is damned easily their best recording to date, crushing the debut.

Of course, I've already given away that this is old school death metal, and so I'd might as well slip that there are clear parallels to the sounds of Autopsy, Asphyx, Cianide, and Incantation (John's better known outfit), and Floridian forebears like Obituary and (old) Death. But, why the hell not? The band's got some of the originators in its very ranks. Reduced to Sludge hits a new standard in production thanks to a pretty sleek job by Swedish veteran Dan Swanö, and you can really feel both the tumultuous undercurrent of the drumming, the burden of the riffs as they course through both gnarled death and sewer doom passages, and perhaps most importantly, they sport one of the best female vocalists in this entire business, with a ghoulish delivery matched only by Corinne van der Brand from the Dutch pioneers Acrostichon. This fits all too naturally over the lattice of crushing, open chord grooves and cutting muted sequences that provide the framework for most of the tracks here.

What Funerus manage to provide here that a good many of their younger contemporaries seem to miss is that death metal can retain its inherent, brutal force while engaging in at least some degree of variation. Sure, almost all of the tracks are cut of the same general cloth, but you have the ability here to distinguish between them. For example, "Death of God" has an almost warm fiber to its post-verse riffing that flows straight into an amazing bridge that wouldn't have been out of place on Death's Leprosy; while "Corroded" and "Time of Death" barrel through you like a fist fight of early Obituary and Incantation. The dark discourse within the music is purely driven by the instruments and vocals; this is not a band who just decide to dowse everything in an excess of reverb, and you won't hear synthesizers used as a central component.

There's not much to harp on here, with the possible exception that these are not the most exorbitantly unique or standout tracks in the genre. There aren't many individual riffs on the album that will have you repeating the album endlessly. Since there are so many thousands of records out there in the field already, it's more a case of standing on its principles and delivering a package of purity for its medium. To that effect, Reduced to Sludge succeeds, and it's a solid, enjoyable experience that feels intensely old school without sacrificing strong production values or using any 'tricks' to seem more cavernous than it really is. Jill is a bruiser on the microphone, the riffs and drums are tight, and you certainly feel as if you're being swallowed by the titular sludge, choking it in as your organs cease their functioning.