2010 in Funeral Doom

Two years ago, it looked as if funeral doom was going to be the new DSBM. In the early noughties, with the arrival of cheap and easy home recording software, solitary dudes around the world had begun to ape and (very occasionally) trump the big names in both of these much-maligned genres. Correspondingly, over the last decade the number of funeral doom releases rose steadily from just 11 in 2000 until peaking in 2009 with 109 (thanks, Metal Archives!). But now the boom is over: with only 86 new releases this year, could it be that the hordes of bedroom-bound projects have started to face up to their own mediocrity and pack it all in?

In the world of Black Metal, there’s no hope of checking out everything that gets a release. For 2010, Metal Archives lists 1260 new albums alone, and that’s not counting demos, EPs and splits. But the braver fans of funeral doom can still wade their way through the morass of new material without quite going insane. I’m still wading, but the search has turned up a few unlikely gems. Here are my pickings for the most interesting bits of funeral doom this year. Most of it’s coming out of the left field; if you want well-produced traditionalist stuff, go and listen to The Howling Void.

1. Spüolus – Beyond the Event Horizon (Kunsthauch)

Cosmic blackened funeral doom! Try to imagine a collaboration between Nortt and Kataxu and you’ve got Hungary’s mighty Spüolus. The four long songs crawl along at funereal pace, shifting between haunting, colossal melody and dark discord. Anyone who needs reminding of their utter irrelevance in an inconceivably large universe need look no further. The four tracks capture a sense of the expansiveness of the cosmos, while still packing in a huge amount of painstaking detail. If you’ve been put off funeral doom by its often minimalist approach, then Spüolus may just give you a run for your money.

Closer ‘Arcane Annihilation’ may be a step too strange for my tastes, coming across as a deranged, Thorns-esque ambient piece, plastered in insane, heavily-doctored vocals. The rest of the record, though, is utterly sublime. Don’t miss out.

Listen here and buy here, before all 500 copies of this smartly-packaged album sell out.

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2. Absum – Purgatoire 2007-2009 (Crepúsculo Negro)

Now for something from the rawer end of the genre. The American Absum (watch out: there’s an Italian funeral doom band with the same name) is the slower-paced alterego of USBM artist Glossolalia, and seems to be an ally of the Black Twilight circle. This tape offers four short songs in 20 minutes, but somehow Absum manages to pack more ideas into each track than you get on 50% of bedroom funeral doom albums.

Excessive rawness and a harsh, clipped sound is nothing new in the world of Black Metal, but it gives this slab of funeral doom a rare and much-needed punch. Raw as it is, though, Purgatoire has all the harmonic density you’d expect from Glossolalia or any of the Black Twilight bands.

I’m guessing this has sold out, but you could try emailing the label.

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3. Job – A Psalm for the First and Last Refuge (Barren Meadows)

Job, the musical outlet of young graphic artist Cyrus Fisher, blends the oppressive weight of traditional funeral doom with the lighter atmospherics of Isis and the colourful droning of Nadja. There’s a nice range of instrumentation on show here, and everything – including the drums – sounds very natural, which is a sadly rare achievement in solo-produced funeral doom. A Psalm… consists of a single 20-minute long track (hear it in its entirety here) that runs through a number of contrasting movements. The EP seems to be based around the concept of the Brahman, and in its second half features a long Hindu prayer that echoes out over pulsing, heady drones.

Take a peek at the stunning artwork here and order here.

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4. Faleng – Ice Tomb (self-released demo)

This Russian project has come out of nowhere, and there’s virtually no information about it on the internet. Still, as soon as I saw the sweet cover (noticing a trend here?) I had to give this demo a spin. This may not be the most professionally executed piece of funeral doom this year, but for a first demo this shows a hell of a lot of promise (listen here). There’s a clear and very engaging ice concept going on here, which is perfectly captured by the ambient passages and the freezing-cold leads that hang over the deeper riffs. The drums are live, and the cymbal-heavy production lends a lot to the atmosphere (the same effect found on Celestiial’s debut). I don’t know how many more times I’ll spin this demo this year, but will definitely keep an eye out for more releases from this project.

It looks as if CD copies of the demo are available from Faleng directly (see last.fm comments).

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5. Sol & Blóðtrú – Old Europa Death Chants (Paradigms Recordings)

Time for some musical alchemy. Take the death/doom of Denmark’s Sol and combine it with the Black Metal of compatriot Blóðtrú, and you’ve got the makings of some pretty serious, and very avant-garde funeral doom. I don’t know if that was the original aim of the collaboration; in fact, it’s hard to place this in any one genre. Old Europa Death Chants is what I’d imagine Ulver would sound like  if they’d written a funeral doom record instead of Themes from William Blake. The instrumentation is eclectic and conjures up quite a neofolk feel, reminding me a bit of fellow countryman Of the Wand and the Moon. It’s an unpredictable record, that’s for sure: drones, blastbeats and even a capella voice arrangements are all thrown in to the mix. Very ecclectic, very awesome.

Get it here.

Have I missed anything awesome? Leave some comments and let us know. The latest Celestiial record sounds good but I haven’t listened to it enough to judge it properly. There’s also meant to be a new four-way split featuring Pantheist and a new Austrasian Goat album: anyone heard them yet?

10 Comments

  • Reply December 11, 2010

    A

    Rob your articles are always perfect. Completely.

  • Reply December 12, 2010

    JB

    The new AUSTRASIAN GOAT shouldn’t be defined as funeral doom; it has equal parts of Black Metal, neofolk, Doom Metal, The Swans, and overall awesomeness.

  • Reply December 12, 2010

    Alex

    Sol & Blóðtrú takes the title of my funeral doom album of the year. Been trying to get people to acknowledge and give it a listen – hopefully this will push people in the right direction. There is a track to sample on the Paradigms home page which I highly recommend.

    I’ve been enjoying the Faleng as well. Yet to check out the others..

    For those bothered – Nortt is working on a new full length. A 2010 release is looking unlikely but fucccckkk, bring the doom.

  • Reply December 12, 2010

    -edges-

    I agree with JB about the new TAG, it´s very “distant” of the debut, but it has the tag trademark, a very diverse album, and really awesome.

    Concerning 2010 funeral doom albums i didn’t heard anything new except the Debut from The Nulll Collective although its not a “brilliant” release it has its moments, (feed the whore its huge).
    Need to check those albums that are mention in the article out.

    New Nortt?!?! It’s about time!

  • Reply December 13, 2010

    Rory

    Why isn’t Ea on this list? Granted, they are from Russia which produces a lot of doom, but they definitely are one of those gems in a sea of sound-alikes.

    Their Au Ellai album this year was absolutely phenomenal!

  • Reply December 15, 2010

    Rob

    Thanks for the recommendation, Rory. I’d listened to a bit of the album on Youtube but obviously dismissed it too soon. Will give it another spin.

    The new Austrasian Goat sound promising, too. Anyone curious can hear a track here: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=dJRHG555KrM&vq=medium

    ..which is some pretty awesome fast-paced Black Metal!

    I was kind of underwhelmed by the Nulll Collective record, to be honest, but you’re right, Feed the Whore is a stunner. I wish they’d kept the earlier version of Exocation, which was much stronger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOHrk1986E8).

  • Reply December 18, 2010

    Sven

    It’s pretty funny but in my eyes the new Urfaust could nearly fall into this genre

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  • Reply December 24, 2010

    herske

    @ Posted by Sven | December 18, 2010, 11:23 am

    It Sure fits into this genre. One of my fave albums from this year!

    MVG
    Hersge

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