Typing the Funeral moniker on Metal-Archives turns up as many as eleven bands of varying geographic and stylistic backgrounds, but the Funeral we discuss in this review are the originals and probably among them the only ones entitled, at least for their own past, to bear such a challenging name, as well as theoretically indicative of the genre proposed. The Norwegian band has been on the scene for 20 years now, but its output has been rather thinned out over time if we consider that Oratorium is only the fifth actual full length released in this time frame. There are many reasons for this, but certainly the numerous line-up changes, also due to the tragic death of two band members, as well as a certain instability in the role of vocalist, can be identified as the most probable causes of this parsimony from a compositional point of view. Keeping true to their moniker, as we were saying, ours started out by proposing funereal scores in the groove of the slowest doom and simultaneously steeped in gothic reflections, but over time the proposal has gradually diversified, starting with 2006’s From These Wounds and arriving at the current form, which is far removed from the funeral doom we know through the excellent works of Mournful Congregation, Evoken or Worship. The sound of the combo led by Anders Eek, the only survivor from the original lineup, today presents itself as a hypothetical and undoubtedly peculiar combination of the gothic of The Vision Bleak (particularly for the orchestrations) and the avant-garde black of the Norwegian school, Borknagar in particular (especially for the vocal parts), all obviously slowed down according to the traditional dictates of doom. The result is an interesting sound but at certain moments discontinuous in its flow; each song possesses moments of high lyricism, with granitic riffs dripping with despair, liquid solos with clear melodies, but often the pathos is interrupted by interlocutory passages in which the band, with the intention of inserting further elements in their sound, only ends up diluting the duration of the songs thus losing sight of the emotional aspect. All this makes the listening of Oratorium rather complex, which in any case remains a good record, expertly played and produced and with a sufficiently versatile singer such as Sindre Nedland (already struggling as keyboardist and clean vocalist in the excellent In Vain, as well as brother of Lars of Solefald); moreover, a duration of more than seventy minutes tends even more to disperse the listener’s attention level. Having said that in this work stand out, among the seven long tracks, Hate, Song Of The Knell and the closing track Will You Have Me?, the ones that most encapsulate passages close to the band’s corporate name, Funeral of 2012 are a band undoubtedly worthy of attention but difficult to place within a genre such as the most extreme doom, in which stylistic consistency appears more of a virtue than a flaw. This record will probably prove much more palatable for those who appreciate the bands that have been mentioned as possible terms of comparison or for those who prefer listening to somber but refined sounds and certainly not with catacomb-like traits.

2012 – Grau Records