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.
Nortt – Endeligt
Following a decade of deafening silence, the prolific Nortt returns. For two decades now, the solo endeavor has crafted a self-described “Pure Depressive Black Funeral Doom" that endues a heavy dose of sorrow. 2007's Galgenfrist was a momentous step for Nortt—even for his collection of music—one that casts a large, dark shadow on funeral doom. Nortt's absence didn't necessarily mean there was inactivity. Over the years, he recorded new music for his eponymous project. Though nothing quite stuck immediately following the previous record.
Eventually, Nortt emerged from these depressive chasms to make a wonderful return on Endeligt. Officially his fourth full-length album, there are many stark contrasts between this record and its predecessor, Galgenfrist. The tracks on Endeligt are much more exacting and succinct—yet, every ounce of grief remains. Runtimes vary between two to six minutes. Piano melodies and a more accessible tone are markedly more prominent. The subject matter is undoubtedly grim. Nortt has long funneled a sort of blackened poignancy into his music. On Endelight however, the leads come from Nortt's piano. In an excellent interview at Invisible Oranges, Nortt discussed his music with Jon Rosenthal.
The shift towards the piano casts a different light on the music. While the ambient passages and towering riffs still exist, the emphasis on keys makes Endeligt an easier listen. For someone new to Nortt's music, this new album serves as a great entry point to retrospectively observe the project's music. For others, Endeligt is a welcomed return for a brilliant mind and his bleak sounds.
Listen to Endeligt below. The official release date is on the 29th—exactly 10 years to the day that Galgenfrist was released. Digital copies and CDs are still available from Avantgarde Music.
Monads – IVIIV
Belgium's Monads is another band who left their fans anxiously waiting for new music—this time for six years. The quintet released their Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem demo in 2011 only to return to silence. Again, the silence doesn't imply inactivity. It is quite the contrary. The band meticulously worked for six years to make IVIIV a possibility. Monads' hard work pays off hand over fist. Their first full-length record is without a doubt a riveting amalgamation of funeral and death doom. Spacious pockets of atmosphere rest against segments of blasting death metal. The arrangement makes the album rush by without any regard for time—a little ironic for funeral doom.
The manner in which Belgians weave a sense of hopelessness into their doom is also a testament to the energy they committed to this project. Mournful plucks of guitar strings and subtle melody could draw a tear. The deep bellows and occasional blast beats draw blood and anguish. Six years definitely was worth the wait for this new records from Monads. Here's to hoping we don't have to wait quite as long for the next record. Belgium has a pretty rich history in funeral doom—it would be great to see them continue to be a part of it.