Thursday, September 09, 2010

Metal Briefs: Funeral Doom

Extreme metal is really esoteric stuff. Not many people get into it. Among all the branches of extreme metal, doom metal is the most esoteric. And among the different styles of doom, funeral doom may be the least appreciated (drone doom may be less appreciated still, but it's not even close to as awesome as funeral doom).

Funeral doom moves at a geologic pace, and it's as heavy as a tectonic plate. Let's join Níðhöggr and shake the roots of Yggdrasil for a bit.

Ahab: The Call of the Wretched Sea (2006)

The Call Of The Wretched Sea I first learned of Germany's Ahab from Metallattorney. I chose this album over anything else in their catalog because it's a concept album based on Moby Dick, a book I decided to read because of a certain other concept album based on it. But let's get to the music. This is very atmospheric, heavy, and dirge-like the whole way through. Aside from the atmospheric interlude "Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales" (which is perfectly welcome on this album) the tracks hover from ten to almost thirteen minutes. Guitars and synths provide melody, and the vocals (death growls) and everything else provide the backdrop. The drumming is actually superb--I think it may be more difficult to drum slowly than quickly. To the untrained ear, this will likely sound like a one-trick affair, but the moods shift from the depressing "Old Thunder" to the foreboding (and forbidding) "The Sermon", to the ominously frightening "Ahab's Oath", to name just a few. Only doom masters could find the various shades of dark they've explored here, and this is very good stuff. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Evoken: A Caress of the Void (2007)

A Caress Of The Void The American band Evoken has been around since the mid-90's, and they play funeral doom that's oppressive and atmospheric, but also manages to work in a few great riffs here and there (see the title track). They play eerie clean melodies over the top of the crushing undercurrent, and the vocalist has a monstrous death growl. It's no less oppressive than Ahab, but because of the riffs (and slightly shorter average track length) it manages to be slightly more accessible. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Thergothon: Stream from the Heavens (1994)

Stream From the Heavens Between a 1991 demo and 1994's Stream from the Heavens, Finland's Thergothon is considered a pioneer of funeral doom (if not the first band on the scene, as their demo was released before anyone else's). It's odd for Finland to actually start a genre, but along with Skepticism, they really did start it (Norway's Funeral didn't release their first demo until 1993). The album laid the groundwork for the genre: slow and heavy, with sparse melodies and dark atmosphere. The vocals are an otherworldly gurgle, with some clean vocals thrown in at times, and organ provides some extra atmosphere. They speed up slightly on a few tracks, but the slowest parts are the best. The album highlight is "Yet the Watchers Guard", which also includes a bass melody, probably the most interesting section of the album. The production is not the best; it was recorded in 1992 (sadly, the band had been broken up for two years before it came out) but even for that time it's very quiet (I had to turn up my volume even though I had just finished listening to Sabotage before playing this one). As a result, the atmosphere is not as oppressive as the above albums, but it's still quite good. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.


I think after listening to these, I've just made myself a huge fan of this genre.


  1. I love Ahab but I haven't check anything else out from this genre. I will have to start doing that.

  2. The only other band I've listened to in this genre is Skepticism. They're not as good as Evoken or Ahab, in my opinion, because they don't give that impenetrable wall of heavy. But they do have a solid plus with using organs, so they're still very good. So far I haven't had a funeral doom album I didn't like.