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Funeral Mourning : Descent - MMXV (Demo)

In 2015 Funeral Mourning returned from the dead, bringing pure darkness from the underworld.

Funeral Mourning emerged in the mid-2000s, bringing some pretty typical but high quality Black/Funeral Doom built upon repetitive and somber passages. With just a single full-length album and a split release, the project produced little over an hour's worth of music before disappearing in silence, lost in the wilderness of its creator's mind, and remained buried deep underground - where he has always aimed to be - for nearly a decade. So, when a sign of life appeared in 2015 - through a cassette released via Desolate's own Abyssic Commune label - I was extremely excited, and immediately grabbed one of the 40 tapes that contain two songs and twenty five minutes of demo material.

This demo was later released on various other formats, none exceeding 100 copies, but the tape in particular has nice bleak artwork as barely intelligible and ghostly as ever, just like the music inside.

Over the intervening years, the sound of the band changed significantly and the compositions are structured differently. First of all it is a lot slower than before, with almost no traces of Black Metal left. The project went back to roots which lay more on the Funeral Doom side, and are now firmly there. The vocals are very deep growls, completely lifeless and dry, reminding me of such extreme projects as the first Of Darkness album, 'Death', where the voice simply has to come from the dead as no living person could sound so morbid. 'Descent' is much more extreme than ever before. There are no catchy melodies or cute tremolo riffs. This is music from the dead for the dead. Completely lifeless and despondent, barely moving and pitch black. The early releases allowed shades of grey, while this is all about darkness and void, taking it closer to Nortt than to Abyssic Sorrow in its uncompromising darkness.

'Descent' does not sound as desperate as before: in Desolate's world, desperation is an emotion only for the living. Desolation is at the forefront now, as there is no more life here. The riffs are excruciatingly slow and drawn out - slow rhythm guitar and slow melody lines running in parallel, hovering over the rest. This feels like a mix between Nortt and Of Darkness. Short clean guitar breaks with whispered words bring disheartenment. The two songs are very similar and should be listened to as a whole, with the second being slightly better. The drums are solid, dry and distant. The only thing left from the Black Metal influences is the somewhat thin guitars, which are used in a decidedly un-Black Metal fashion.

This is truly distant music with no hope at all for any return to life: resigned and whispering from the void, devoid of hope that could also bring pain. There is no pain here, no piercing feelings - only an almost dreamlike resignation. We have reached the bottom of the void and are just telling a tale of how it is: it's somewhat unintentionally Beckettian in nature, actually. Carefully picked notes, sparsely played show true craftsmanship, there is nothing excessive apart from the barren desolation. It is close to what Mistress of the Dead - and others on the extreme fringes of the Funeral Doom spectrum - do with uncompromising sound offering no relief, where even the quiet clean sections with whispered vocals are as forlorn as the rest of the music. There is no salvation but also no yearning for it, absolutely no drive towards anything. This is unhealthy music for certain.

'Part I' starts with extremely slow distorted guitars that slowly form a melody. In the past, Funeral Mourning guitar riffs flowed into one another, but now each riff is left to die out. The drums are vastly improved with amazing production so each thud sounds authentic and is a treat for the ear. The guitars simply drag, barely able to move forward at all. The vocals are totally deserted, subdued and resigned, with no strength or life in them, ghostly with barely enough breath to utter sighs for lost life, lost hope, lost light. Desolate not desperate. The years have worn out the strength to live, leaving an empty shell.

Each guitar chord sounds as finite as if it will be the last. The music is so slow, the instruments emerge one by one, reluctant to even sound, ready to vanish back to the void as soon as possible. The desolation that is depicted is comparable only to Nortt's 'Galgenfrist', with crawling guitar leads that just pass through the desolation and emptiness. This is pure unadulterated doom filled with darkness and death, nothing else. It drags you down and you cannot resist, such is its effect. The guitar line that at times flies among all the wretchedness, bright and melancholic, so contrasting with the complete lack of life surrounding it, touches you, grabs you by the throat and stuffs it full of choking sorrow.

There is no solace to be found here, no easing of the experience; it is all brutal in its barrenness, uncompromisingly slow and sparse, crawling in the underworld. During the previous era you drifted away, almost sinking into oblivion, but now the dragging is excruciating. Yes, the misery filled shrieks were desperate but the journey was smooth, now it is barely moving at all.

While 'Descent' is nothing extraordinary from a technical perspective, rarely would someone dare explore such barren lands in order to portray the blackest of the black. If you want pitch-black atmosphere that is masterfully sustained for twenty five minutes, you can safely bet on this short demo. It is simple and sparse, with no distractions or hooks, slow and distant, excruciatingly morbid and lifeless. It is a sign of what is to come. This is not an album that you can really just listen to on repeat - its monotone nature and lack of variation becomes tiresome - but as background music it is perfect and can be played into oblivion. A focused listening session, though, is rewarded with subtleties interspersed among the desolate notes.

'Descent' is pure unforgiving darkness.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Descent - Part I
2. Descent - Part II

Duration : Approx. 24 minutes

Visit the Funeral Mourning bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-03-01 by Klamerin Malamov
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