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Review: Funeral - As the Light Does the Shadow
As the Light Does the Shadow

Label: Indie Recordings
Year released: 2008
Duration: 71:54
Tracks: 10
Genre: Doom Metal


Review online: January 24, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.89/5 (77.78%) (9 Votes)

Funeral is a band for whom tragedy is a familiar traveler; the death of bassist/singer and songwriter Einar Fredriksen in 2003, and the suicide of guitarist Christian Loos less than two months before the release of the monumental From These Wounds in 2006, gives them a unique and tragic insight into the nature of loss and sorrow that provide the central themes for their depressive form of Doom Metal. Make no mistakes here friend for that is exactly what you get on As the Light Does the Shadow — a slow and mournful journey through the realm of inner suffering and the trials of a bleak existence.

Given the member turn over that Funeral have been through you would expect that change to be reflected in their music, but that is not the case. What we have here is a powerful and focused album, unremitting in its vision of bleak depression, strong and stirring in its ability to evoke a sympathetic sorrow in the listener that leaves its mark long after the final track has rolled gently to a close. Each track is a tale, or rather lesson, of sadness, that continues the audio pain delivered in their previous works, but in a more focused and precise manner. As the sole remaining original member, drummer Anders Eek lays down a foundation that perfectly provides the base for Funeral's crushing songs. He ably provides memorable and diverse beats, rich in syncopation and rhythmic intensity, yet (most importantly) providing the space for the rest of the instruments to breathe and work their magic.

As with From These Wounds the real star of the show here is Frode Forsmo's calm and sorrowful vocals. He weaves a feeling of melancholy with great skill while also knowing where he needs to provide the feeling of anger that often results from oppressive sadness. The vocal melodies are subtle, taking several listens to manifest themselves in the listeners mind, but as each track reveals the vocal intensity it possesses it is impossible to remove them from your mind. This is the mark of a true craftsman — to take something simple and turn it into something memorable, and Mr. Forsmo does this, leaving his mark on your subconscious in a way that it takes several listens to manifest. There are also a couple of very well executed vocal solos, or rather, a cappella (the opening to "The Absence of Heaven") and the final track, "Fallen One", is done entirely with multi-layered voices over which Frode delivers his deep, calm vocals. It is a superb closer, capturing perfectly the feel of the album, and ending on a painful, aching note of sadness.

One area in particular that As the Light... makes an improvement over From These Wounds is the guitar and keyboard work. The guitars are, as before, crushing in tone, giving this album an incredible weight, but it is in the dirge-like melodies presented by Messrs Lerberg and Nybø in every song that the real beauty of this album lays - the interplay between the vocals and the guitars is sometimes breathtaking. The solos are also quite remarkable, being tuneful and melodic, but never in your face or pointlessly flashy. They are memorable and often come across as an extended "melody break" playing upon the themes presented throughout the song they are part of, with no wasted notes nor unnecessary frills. They are frequently supported by superbly executed and designed keyboard progressions, these mournful, slow paced melodies soothe the listener while sweeping them ever deeper into this journey along the path of sadness. The keyboard playing is also much more prevalent than their previous work, but whether it is providing a wonderful melody or an ethereal accompaniment, it always blends in perfectly. Several wonderful (if oh too brief) piano parts provide some diversity among the otherwise guitar dominated album, and I would really have liked to see more of them.

Choosing highlights for an album full of them is a difficult task, the but opening three tracks of the album lay an unbreakable foundation, from the anvil weight of the dive-straight-in opener "The Will to Die" with its very memorable chorus and piano sprinkled post-chorus verse, through the brutally slow "Those Fated to Fall" reminiscent of the self titled track from From These Wounds, and the unforgettable verses of "The Strength to End It" with its terrible lyrics about someone trying to find the strength to end their life. "In the Fathoms of Wit and Reason" sees guest vocalist Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass fame tackling the vocal duties, and he acquits himself quite well. He completely changes the feel of the tune compared to who it would sound with Frode at the helm, but Funeral most definitely chose the correct song for him to guest on — it is still slow and mournful, but carries a more traditional doom feel, and suits Mr. Lowe's vocal style very well. It makes for a nice break in the middle of the album.

So what else could I say? As the Light Does the Shadow is simply a masterpiece, continuing from where From These Wounds left off, but upping the ante with more focused songwriting and more expansive musicianship. Each track breathes and takes you on a journey through a land you will be thankful you are only a spectator to. In a nutshell, this is mature music, the result of life experience and practiced skill. Highly recommended.

More about Funeral...
Review: From These Wounds (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: To Mourn is a Virtue (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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