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Funeral Mourning : Drown In Solitude (Reissue)


Funeral Mourning's 2006 debut is a classic example of top notch Black/Funeral Doom.



Black/Funeral Doom is a niche genre that occupies the extreme fringes of the Doom spectrum, providing joyful listeners with some of the most painful and desolate musical expressions known to man. My personal holy trinity of this style has always been Nortt, Funeral Mourning and Abyssmal Sorrow, each taking a slightly different approach, though the latter two bands shared more similar characteristics than just their homeland of Australia, and both emerged around a decade after Nortt's mid-'90s fonding. Funeral Mourning was a solo project by, and one of the first bands to feature, the individual Desolate, now a prominent figure in Australian Black Metal circles.

'Drown in Solitude' is the band's debut full-length, with a very apt name for what is to be found in there. It has been released three times and each release is quite different. The original album was written around 2005 and came out in 2006 as a CD via GoatowaRex. The following year the same label reissued it as a limited 150-copy vinyl LP, which is the version on which this review is based. Not only was the cover art changed completely, but the last two songs - 'Sounds Of Dreary Sea' and 'Misery Cloaked Under Decayed Flesh', which comprised about half the album's runtime - were replaced by two new, similar length, tracks recorded in 2007. In 2012, Nihilward Productions re-released it on CD, this time featuring all of the songs from the two previous releases, and even including a very short but sweet bonus track - 'Of Despair And Loss' - consisting solely of desolate notes and sounds of crashing waves.

All these re-releases provide a great opportunity to follow Funeral Mourning's initial evolution. The earliest songs are more on the Funeral Doom side - the vocals are very low growls, though still blackish, and the guitars are less tremolo-based, with more straightforward riffs, very slow and sustained. The newer tracks are more Black Metal-ish in nature but overall better composed and recorded. The sound is pretty similar but a bit more complex, with the leads receiving more central placement. The guitars are thinner, more clean keys are featured and the vocals are more up-front and more desperate, higher, almost like shrieks. Personally I like them more although the original ones fit better.

All this makes me quite sad that the 2005 demo tape 'The Sour Taste of Existence' remains unreleased, as I suppose it would show an even earlier, more Funeral Doom side of the band.

The vinyl has a pretty good design and the production is perfectly adequate for a release like this. The change of sound in the second half of the album, though, only really works because flipping the sides provides a clear separation between the two halves, therefore the difference is not so abrupt as to affect the experience negatively.

That said, the album should be listened as one whole. Its sole purpose is to create an atmosphere in which to drown you, so if you took a single song out it would sound weak, isolated and insufficient. Everything is focused on that - the artwork, the song titles, the lyrics and the music itself each take part in building a bleak painting of desperation. There is not a happy note to be found, no glimmer of light in any part of this release. Like many one-man projects it is totally homogenous, with black the only color it emanates. Shades are allowed though; it cannot sustain pure pitch blackness at all times. It sounds monochrome, indifferent to life and pain so you will not find any piercing shrieks, it is all subdued under a veil where a solitary figure lays motionless while dust glides through, winds tear and debris crumples.

'Drown in Solitude' is not technically complex but the mood it sets is spot on. The tempo is generally pretty slow, normal for the genre with no fast parts or blast beats to be found - repetitive, very monotonous and trance-like, with the 2007 songs more so than the early ones, it has a supporting function and is not supposed to stand out. The guitars are drawn-out and thin, comprised of tremolo riffs, simple power chords or stunning soaring leads that are a real highlight so you always crave more. They come in waves and waves, building amazing melodies.

Depression is at the forefront, bringing this closer to Depressive Black Metal than to Nortt's mood, but it manages to avoid the main flaws of that primitive, incompetent genre. The vocals reek of desperation but without crossing the line into evoking pitifulness, as in many bad examples of this style. Desolate wallows in misery but does not want our pity, that is why he does not wail. He suffers, waiting for death, but will persevere till the end. Howling at the wind, not shrieking in agony like Funeralium or Mourning Dawn. The suicidal feelings are evoked because the end is cherished, welcomed and yearned for, but he does not drown in pity - he drowns in solitude, not in loneliness.

It is heavy, oppressive and the feeling of drowning is properly expressed and conveyed via the suffocating atmosphere. The screams make you feel like you are trapped, like you have nowhere to go and you can only hope the end is near. Everything around is pure barren desolation, grey and monochrome, reeking of morbid, impending death that is immersive and engulfing. Despite all the negativity it is always alluring, always enticing, hazy and dissonant with its flowing guitars and tortured vocals that howl on top.

The title song 'Drown in Solitude' acts like a single here, since it is almost catchy, so it is no wonder it was used as promotional track. Sadly, the otherwise great 'Your Waters' features a different vocalist - Lurker - whose vocals are weaker, more blackened, more shrieked and artificially tortured like the cheap choking effects some bands from the period used (looking at you, Senthil). Raw, creepy and verging on the pathetic, Lurker's shrieks are fortunately lower in the mix than the rest, therefore not too audible and annoying, but still unnecessary.

In this particular genre it is not about who is technically capable of creating such music but who is willing to do it; who is willing to go down this road, into this void. Atmosphere is crucial and here the success is obvious as we have very simple music with remarkable effects. The liner notes tell us that all tracks were written and recorded in darkness, solitude and negativity and you know this is not a marketing trick, as it cleary shows. It was not only created but also should be listened to in darkness, solitude and negativity because it is like a vampire - every ray of light will weaken its effect and make it seem unconvincing or inadequate. This is an album that requires you step into its world in order to have effect. It requires dedication but also rewards it with some of the bleakest and most despairing notes ever.


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Reviewer's rating: 8/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. Winds Of Unknown Existence
2. Drown In Solitude
3. Your Waters
4. An Abysmal Road As Far As My Misery
5. The Depths Of Death

Alternative Versions:

Original 2006 Release
1. Winds Of Unknown Existence
2. Drown In Solitude
3. Your Waters
4. Sounds Of A Dreary Sea
5. Misery Cloaked Under Decayed Flesh

2012 CD Release
1. Winds Of Unknown Existence
2. Drown In Solitude
3. Your Waters
4. Sounds Of A Dreary Sea
5. Misery Cloaked Under Decayed Flesh
6. Of Despair And Loss
7. An Abysmal Road As Far As My Misery
8. The Depths Of Death

Duration : Approx. 40 minutes

Visit the Funeral Mourning bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-03-01 by Klamerin Malamov
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