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Marche Funèbre : Into The Arms Of Darkness


Marche Funèbre's third full-length matches their enthusiasm and sincerity with maturity of presentation.



Okay, let's be honest from the outset: I like Marche Funèbre. They're a great bunch of guys, working hard at gigging their particular take on Death/Doom; they put on a helluva live show, and - if you're lucky enough to meet them in person - very easy to get on with; I've got some very good memories of hanging out with them in Brussels in 2014. And, some years previously, as a wet-behind-the-ears rookie reviewer of all things Doom, one of the very first albums I covered was their 2011 debut 'To Drown': intriguing yet imperfect as it was, I still have a soft spot for the way it inspired me to really get into writing for this site.

Which is one of the reasons I'm still here, and finally feeling a little comfortable in my overlord-of-Doom throne (haha, well, actually, it's the same chair as when I was a mere junior-underling-of-Doom. Maybe I should get a cushion to make me look taller, or something), staring down the barrel of the third full-length album, 'Into The Arms Of Darkness', and thinking that, yes, of the many bands I've had dealings with in the last several years, Marche Funèbre are one of those that still come across as a bit special to me.

The underlying blueprint of their sound hasn't really changed, just as the band line-up (with the exception of a change of bassist prior to sophomore 'Roots Of Grief') has remained constant. So has the presentation, with another of Brooke Shaden's cruelly evocative photo-works enclosing the intelligent lyrics and comprehensive credits presented in the CD booklet. Lengthy compositions pack each of the albums, working around a core of catchily melodic Death/Doom, but incorporating an eclectic variety of other elements taken from across the Doom spectrum and beyond, into Black and Death Metal-inspired territories - 'Into The Arms Of Darkness' takes that a step further, putting aside the few shorter tracks of previous outings and developing each of its five pieces out to nine minutes or over. And develop they do: the other part of the blueprint is the way the band prefer to work with contrasting passages, each showing different influences, rather than blend their sound into a more homogenous whole. That can be a tricky balancing act, running the risk of sounding excessively busy and chaotic, and one of the notable points of Marche Funèbre's evolution over the years has been in getting those transitions to work steadily more effectively and naturally.

Here, with exclusively larger canvases to work on, that's a pretty key aspect - and one which has, essentially, been entirely successful. At its peak - on the central 'Uneven' - it's done with accomplishment reminiscent of the more Metal-inspired side of the Prog revival of the '80s: the sweeping changes of focus and tempo, the fiercely socially-aware lyrics and the soaring melody lines all remind me of nothing so much as a Doom take on Twelfth Night (and, yes, that is a very good thing!). Elsewhere, you'll find more typically Doom structures and moments, accompanied by fleeting thoughts of bands potentially as disparate as Cathedral and The Morningside, Paradise Lost, Isole and Mourning Dawn. They are fleeting, though, and so varied that you could insert pretty much any other Epic/Trad/Black/Death names you're familiar with - Marche Funèbre has its own distinct character that simply happens to include such points of reference.

Underneath it all, of course, sits the musicianship - which, near-inevitably, for such a tight and long-standing unit, has a commendable depth and synergy, smoothly managing the complexities of these longer works with catchy hooks and melodies carried by the twinned guitars of Peter and Kurt, and solidly backed by Dennis and Boris comprising the genuinely excellent and superbly punchy percussion section. Both halves of that equation fit together neatly: each with plenty of flamboyance, detail and variety, but dovetailed together in complementary fashion to tidily - and confidently - fill the soundstage. 'Confident' is a good word to describe Arne's vocals, too, as they range from poignant or forceful cleans to harsh growls, rasps and shrieks: the other most notable point of the band's evolution has been the steadily more natural, unforced use of this range, and the corresponding improvement in power and character of delivery. They've lost none of their individual and instantly-recognisable tones, they've simply grown in stature from release to release.

With a breadth of vision that roams from the mourning lament in 'The Garden Of All Things Wild' to the rousing stomp of 'Capital Of Rain', 'Into The Arms Of Darkness' steers a once-again improved path through the band's restlessly changing soundscapes. One thing Marche Funèbre have always done is clearly put their collective heart and soul into what they do, and with this latest release, that sincerity is matched by the maturity of presentation throughout. They've built steadily, album on album - refining out the uncertainties and hesitations, and removing the filler moments - until the flashes of greatness that marked 'To Drown' have become a far more permanent incorporation. By turns stirring, turbulent, romantic, furious and thoughtful, 'Into The Arms Of Darkness' is a densely-packed and compelling album from one of the more distinctive-sounding bands in the genre, and it absolutely deserves to grab your attention.




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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. Deprived (Into Darkness)
2. Capital Of Rain
3. Uneven
4. Lullaby Of Insanity
5. The Garden Of All Things Wild

Duration : Approx. 58 minutes

Visit the Marche Funèbre bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-03-11 by Mike Liassides
Vanha - Black Lion
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