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.
You may know Joseph Hawker from his other project, Ethereal Shroud. Hawker's funeral doom and DSBM fusion project has garnered the attention over the last couple years—especially with 2015's They Became the Falling Ash. In addition to Ethereal Shroud, Hawker had another project named Of Solitude and Solemn. While it is still doom and lyrically grapples with sadness and death, it tackled more atmospheric and post-rock stylings.
Hawker originally released a self-titled demo under the Of Solitude and Solemn moniker back in 2013, but last week it resurfaced on Bandcamp—remastered in remembrance of Hawker's project. The two-song demo runs roughly 24 minutes. The first track, "The Wanderer," features some subtle symphonic moments in the more urgent sections of the track. In the portions where the arrangement simmers, spacey guitars and shoegaze instances steal the spotlight. The second track, "Age Upon Age," follows a similar suit. There are brief bouts of tremolo picking and Hawker's almost whispered vocals do much to add to the somber nature of the demo.
The best moments, personally, come when Hawker switches to clean vocals that seem to sit above the soaring guitar chords. A good example of this is towards the final third of "Age Upon Age." It ultimately becomes a nice inflection point for the final minutes of the track which slowly fade out as the song concludes.
Stream the remastered, eponymous demo now. It is available for purchase through Bandcamp as well as Starlight's Guide, which was also remastered this year. Be sure to check out Ethereal Shroud too.