It’s the weekend! What better way to get it started than with the latest installment of “Funeral Doom Friday”. This weekly column looks to shed some light onto some of the darkest, most depressing, and discordant metal out there. Funeral Doom stems from the deepest depths of death-doom and dirge music. Each week, my goal is to highlight some of the newest music or rediscover classic works from some of the earliest bands and originators such as Australia’s Mournful Congregation, United States’s Evoken, UK’s Esoteric and the Finnish Thergothon. Feel free to share your opinions and suggestions in the comments!
Ataraxie hails from Rouen, France, a city situated on the final resting place of Joan of Arc's remains, the River Seine. The French Funeral Doomers have been an established force in the genre since the turn of the millennium. Sixteen years has seen the band release three full-length albums on top of a couple splits and demos and in return, they have garnered acclaim from metal fans from all over the world. Stepping into a time machine for a little bit, this week's installation focuses on Ataraxie's riveting first full-length album, Slow Transcending Agony.
It seems like a great time to feature Ataraxie's debut. The group is planning to do a special "10th Anniversary Remastered Edition" this year (preorders begin June 15th according to their Facebook page). Slow Transcending Agony begins with the instrumental track, "A Step Into the Gloom". Six minutes of thunderous drums and harsh guitars give way to the somber viscera the rest of the album indulges in. Much of the album flows between powerful Death-Doom and calming elegy. "Funeral Hymn" and "L'Ataxarie" are great examples of these stylistic switches. Perhaps the album's greatest moments of Funeral Doom lay in the album's title track and the finale, "Another Day In Despondency".
While the entire album is certainly magnificent, it is these final two songs that seem to strike a greater chord. Between the evocative instrumentation and the lyrics bellowed out in such an ominous fashion, these last couple of tracks encapsulate feelings of crippling depression and suicidal desires. Jonathan Théry sings in both French and English. His words on the title track suicidally ache, "Je n’ai que faire de de cet habit de chair qui me dégoûte / I will soon blow my brain out / So as to reach the blackened light / Which rules the eternal night". It is this sadness and need for physical finality that embodies Funeral Doom Metal and Ataraxie's debut album masterfully captures it.
The lineup for Ataraxie at the time of its release included Jonathan Théry (vocals, bass), Frédéric Patte-Brasseur and Sylvain Estève (guitars), and Pierre Sénécal (drums). The only member of the band who had a hand in the making of Slow Transcending Agony to leave since its release is Estève. Today the band has added two more members, rising to a quintet of musicians. Julien Payan (guitars), a fellow bandmate of Théry's in Void Paradigm, joined Ataraxie in 2014 along with fellow guitarist, Hugo Gaspar. With how active the band continues to be, hopefully there will be some follow-up to 2013's L'Être et la nausée after the newest remastered version of Slow Transcending Agony is completed.