|Review: Runemagick - On Funeral Wings|
|On Funeral Wings|
Label: Aftermath Music
Year released: 2004
Review online: April 25, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:On Funeral Wings
Rated 2.82/5 (56.36%) (11 Votes)
Believe me, I wanted this to be as good as last years' awesome "Darkness Death Doom". I willed it to be so, but I am sad to report that Runemagick's 8th full length release is a decided step back for this great Swedish band. On their last disc Nicklas and company seemed to have distilled the cool parts of their sound, and moved away from the things that have always held them back. On this disc they reversed that.
Now I am not saying this is a bad album, because it is not. "On Funeral Wings" is as heavy and doomy as its predecessors, not to mention longer. I don't want to compare it excessively to the last album, nor do I want to spend the whole review enumerating the drawbacks of the album, I want to review the album based on its own merits, so: "On Funeral Wings" is a crushingly heavy album of Swedish-styled Death Metal with that doomy Runemagick vibe. You get the hugely long songs with cool titles (check that tracklist!) and Nicklas has really put some work into his vocals this time around. Usually his voice is very dry, but here he really put some emotion into his growling, so that's a definite plus. This is still the sprawling epic band we know and love, but here they go a bit overboard with it. At 73 minutes the disc is just too darn long, and a lot of the songs seem to meander on and lose focus. Even cool riffs like you get on "Ocean Demon" or "The Doomsday Scythe" cannot keep a song going for eight or nine minutes without something else to move things along. The track "Black Star Abyss" is especially annoying, as it is an eight minute 'atmospheric' instrumental with very little interesting happening at at. It's basically a space waster to pad out the run time, and it's backed with this incredibly grating background noise that I can't really describe – it's like a droning keening sound that makes me reach for the "off" button every time. It doesn't fade away until halfway through the last track either, so that one is also essentially unlistenable. Standouts are the killer title cut, the crushing "Dragon Of Doom", and the riff-tastic "Emperor of the Underworld".
The packaging is lavish but uninspired. I've got a numbered slipcase edition, but the sleeve is flimsy and the art is not too impressive. The actual jewel case art is even worse, with the lame looking engraved demon thing on it. It would have been much better if they had just gone with the logo and album title. The interior layout is OK, but the lyrics are printed in an almost unreadable font. I thought the guitar tone on "DDD" was incredible, and so the production job on this one is a let down, as it is a bit dry and flat. Not as much so as "Requiem of the Apocalypse", but still a disappointment after the last CD.
So maybe Runemagick need to slow down, after all, they have cranked out 8 full-length albums, plus assorted EPs and a live album in six years. This is a more than decent Death Metal album, but I know this band is capable of so much more than just decent. The last thing I want is for one of my favorite bands to start going through the motions. "On Funeral Wings" gives a distinct 'I've heard this song before' feeling. And while with Runemagick that's still good, this band is better than good.
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Interview with Nicklas Rudolfsson on August 1, 2003 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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