Artist: Funeral Fornication
Album: The Lamentation
Okay, first of all, let’s just deal with this band name. I have no idea what Funeral Fornication is supposed to mean, but I have two possible guesses: either it’s fornicating with the corpse, or it’s fornicating near the corpse. Regardless, the band name instantly makes me think of some kind of grindcore band, or perhaps a really filthy black metal band. What we have instead is a kind of atmospheric black metal that has some pretty interesting differences separating it from the normal atmoblack sound. The Lamentation is Funeral Fornication’s fifth full length and I have it on good authority that it is their best album to date.
The first song on the album, In Exile, is a bit of an oddball on the album. It features elements that don’t really play a huge role in the rest of the album. For one, it’s the heaviest song on a rather light album. But the most interesting element is these clean vocals, which appear very rarely throughout the album but feature rather prominently on the opening track. But these clean vocals are really great! They sound like a medieval singer, and they have the same melancholic twinge to them that you hear from John Haughm of Agalloch fame. I really like the clean vocals, and they play really well off some of heavier sounds; I wish they would have continued to use them on some of the other more ambient songs. My only issue with In Exile is the fact that the drums are clearly programmed. While this isn’t an issue throughout most of the album, since they are further back in the mix and not leaned on too heavily, In Exile ends with a pretty heavy, fast blast of black metal, and the moment is a little ruined by the programmed drum sound.
After In Exile, the album settles into a sound that I think works very well for them. My favourite part about The Lamentation is definitely the keys. A lot of the songs feature great piano leads, and there are even synths thrown into the same song, which is pretty bold. Normally, if a band wants to include synths or piano in a song they pick one or the other, but not Funeral Fornication. But it really does work, because it drenches everything in a nice atmosphere, a dreary wistfulness. This atmosphere reaches its peak on the track Vulturous, where the keys and the whole sound remind me of ambient black metal bands like Lustre, Mesarthim, and Mare Cognitum. It’s my favourite song on the album and I really like the sound on display. Songs like Apex Iridescent, Vulturous, and (the Weakling referencing) Dead as Dreams have the strongest push from the keyboards and they excel the most. What is interesting is that while I am hearing the ambient black metal sound similar to the bands mentioned above, it’s approached from a completely different direction. It’s almost like the sound has been organically stumbled upon rather than influenced by those bands, which is really admirable. This is the style that Funeral Fornication obviously feels most comfortable in, writing songs with really strong keyboard melodies and epic-sounding guitars. Some other songs have less support from the keys and it leads to a dip in quality. In this way, the album is a little bit torn between two sounds, where one is clearly the stronger sound for the band.
The Lamentation has some really awesome songs on it that align closely with some of the best ambient black metal bands of these past few years. I think Funeral Fornication should definitely continue along this path, because the album is very enjoyable, especially when the keys and guitars work together to create those beautiful moments. Now if they could only work in those amazing vocals from In Exile into the ambient black metal songs; that would be amazing!
Check out their Bandcamp: https://funeralfornication.bandcamp.com/releases