“And all that is Holy, Holy shall be”.
He who listeneth to black metal should have heareth about Funeral Mist. At least once in his life time. After the MCD Devilry (1998) and 2 albums, Salvation (2003) and Maranatha (2009), the infamous Swedish black metal band is back (from the dead) with a spiteful vengeance. Funeral Mist stands as a temple of blasphemy, erected upon the pillars which are its albums. The more are added to its foundation, the stronger and menacing this temple becomes.
To be absolutely honest, I wasn’t even hoping that Arioch will release again an album with Funeral Mist, for many reasons. Reading some of the few interviews he gave some time ago, (the most notable was the one for Slayer Mag nr XX), I got the impression that this band was history and after the superb Maranatha there will be no more Funeral Mist for us.
Since Arioch joined Marduk under the alias Mortuus and dedicated his artistic life to that band for the past 14 years, I really thought that after Maranatha Funeral Mist would be a closed chapter in the black metal history book.
The influence Mortuus brought in Marduk was immense and helped propel the band from quite a common black metal band to a really scary and intelligent entity, which not only sang about the Devil, but also meant it and almost consumed the whole lives of its members with recordings and large tours.
But here we are, in Anno Gratia 2018, and Arioch has announced a new Funeral Mist album, without any previous snippets or teasers. The news came like God’s wrath upon the earth, which started to tremble, to shook and then stood still, silently waiting for the album release, on the fatidical Friday of June the 15th.
And so, the most expected black metal album of this decade will be finally out tomorrow, released one more time by the famous French label Norma Evangelium Diaboli (NoEvDia).
Just like its predecessor, Hekatomb contains 8 songs, which last this time under 45 minutes. Can that be a good thing, when we’re talking about Funeral Mist? Considering that only 3 songs are longer than 6 minutes (Cockatrice, Metamorphosis and Pallor Mortis), yes, the content is more concentrated and hits you in the face even more with its blasphemic virulence spewed forth by Arioch‘s instruments. I said instruments because he plays again everything apart from the drums, which, as usual, are played by a different session member, this time under the name of Lars B. Since not much is known about this guy, I won’t go into assumptions about his identity (to be honest I don’t even care, but I truly admire his work behind the kit, he really did a fantastic job on this record).
Overall, during the 43 minutes of Hekatomb, Funeral Mist continues more or less what has been started with Devilry 20 years ago and delivers the same hateful and anti christian black metal it got us used to. The songs are a bit shorter this time, which makes them easier to digest and to assimilate. Their primordial essence is still there, but this time it feels as if more hatred and disgust have been added to them, turning them into some really sharp and deadly poisoned daggers.
The fact that 9 years have passed since the release of Maranatha is quite obvious and the album reveals a more mature and evolved Arioch, both vocally and instrumentally. After all, 9 years went by in which the musician was able to create, develop and improve both his musical skills and his art, while still keeping the same hateful spirit alive.
Arioch‘s possessed screaming will hit you right in the face and will haunt you for the whole duration of the album with fierce intensity and mad devotion. His vocal skills have improved over the years but even if his voice sounds a bit different sometimes, like on the opening track In Nomine Domini, it has also gained more depth and power than before. The whole vocal spectrum is still full with venom and bile spat at every word, moaning or growl, defiling the very creation itself with vitriolic voices.
I really like that Arioch has been able to keep his 2 personalities apart, so Arioch from Funeral Mist is not the same singer as Mortuus from Marduk. And this is amazing and makes both bands even more interesting and why not, original.
Stylistically, Hekatomb follows in the same path as the previous albums, alternating with demented precision between extremely fast songs with insane riffing and drumming and slow tracks with pounding drums and mid tempo rhythms (like Naught but Death and Metamorphosis), while the growling is even more dangerous and menacing as ever. Without imitating these albums, Hekatomb turns out to be a worthy successor of Salvation and Maranatha, perfectly adapted to the its time, but still adding something new and inciting which I am absolutely sure (even if I don’t give a flying fuck about it) will displease some die hard fanboys who will deplore the demise “ov the trve” Funeral Mist.
“No past, no future, only now.”
With this magnificent opus, Funeral Mist has again created a horrific and religiously soaked atmosphere, where the strange, “Burzumish” keyboards (Cockatrice) meet with the church choirs (Metamorphosis) in some twisted way, adding a more sinister touch to the overall audial setting. Of course this is no new thing, as Arioch already did it before, but it still has a strong impact on the listener and builds up the majestic soundscape.
The last track of the album, Pallor Mortis, is the quintessence of the album, where the oppressing slow rhythms intertwine with the frantic speed, giving birth to a twisted demonic offspring, over which the vocals pour their venomous fluids.
Hekatomb, in its whole, represents an avalanche of hymns dedicated to the dark lord, made just as they should be made: with fury, hate, devotion and love. Each of the 8 songs speak for themselves, but together they are one big ode to the god below, “spreading the gospel of the Lord”.
As I said, those who expected something different from Funeral Mist will surely be disappointed. Hekatomb is no different than the previous band’s releases, besides the fact that it’s even more dangerous and more sinister as ever.
Recorded in Endarker Studio, the album could not have been perfect without a flawless production, which really helps Hekatomb to be perfectly ingested, like a poisoned pill. Besides the voice with its perfectly understandable lyrics, each instrument is audible and creates a wall of clear sound, where the bass guitar and the drums add a heavy sound to an already ritualistic atmosphere.
As a conclusion, the cover is maybe the only thing that differentiates the “old” Funeral Mist releases from this new album. Gone are the demonic and horrific paintings, instead we are granted with quite a beautiful image of a forest, everything set on a blueish background. Do not judge a book by its cover, they said. And trust me, they were right.
What is inside will give you many moments to think and speak of, a vision too colossal to contain in one look. Exactly like Funeral Mist has done it before, and hopefully it will do it again.
“And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the COCKATRICE’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Funeral Mist – Hekatomb tracklist:
1. In Nomine Domini
2. Naught But Death
3. Shedding Skin
6. Within the Without
8. Pallor Mortis