Finally, the weekend is upon us. What better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of "Funeral Doom Friday". For those who are new to this column; each week features a new or classic album from the realm of extreme doom. Much of funeral/death doom's might comes from an oppressive emotional weight and the use of death or black metal motifs (played at a trudging pace, of course.) Pioneers like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Esoteric have mastered this blend of dirge and destruction. For 25 years, they have methodically built compositions that stretch for dozens of minutes all while keeping fans enthralled. Time has elapsed since the days of Thergothon and much like the world around us, the genre has evolved. Today's modern bands contort the very construct of the genre, breeding darkly refreshing new work. Their work thankfully gives this column plenty of material to share.
It seems like every other week Funeral Doom Friday features something with Daniel Neagoe in it. Nevertheless, it is always with great reason. This week is certainly no different. Neagoe's Eye of Solitude returned at the end of February with a brand new split with Belgium's Marche Funèbre. The former plays a pretty classical version of funeral doom whereas the latter takes more of a gothic death doom stance. These two bands—both who contribute a single track—combine for a wonderful variety that features many of extreme doom's best ideas.
Eye of Solitude's "Collapse" kicks things off. Neagoe's now ubiquitous voice and growls slowly emerge from a cascade of strings as the track unfurls. It's very much resemblant of Ahab's Call of the Wretched Sea. It's A slow burn; one that takes a number of minutes to develop, but after nearly five minutes "Collapse" morphs into a staggering dirge. Occasional keys arise as punctuation to particularly morose segments of the track. Neagoe's undoubtedly a master of this style of music. His recent output across various bands like Clouds and Shape of Despair in addition to Eye of Solitude solidify his position as a modern great. He, as well as Chris Davies, Steffan Gough, and Remco Verhees, pick up where they left off with 2016's sensational Cenotaph.
Marche Funèbre, on the other hand, turns up the tempo—invoking more mid-paced motifs and classic doom rhythms at times. This Belgian quintet, much like Eye of Solitude, follows up an acclaimed album from the recent past entitled Into the Arms of Darkness. Much of "Darkness" draws from memories of early Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride, especially with the mix of clean and harsh vocals from Arne Vandenhoeck and Peter Egberghs. This new track from Marche Funèbre is a nice shift in pace from Eye of Solitude lugubrious doom and wields a much different—sort of deadly romanticism—power.
Both bands begin a west coast US tour starting next week. In conjunction with this tour, Hypnotic Dirge Records is releasing this split as well as Marche Funèbre's last full-length album, Into the Arms of Darkness. The split album, as well as the tour dates, are below. Physical copies of the album are available from Hypnotic Dirge Records and Cimmerian Shade Recordings.