Old-school death metal legends/members of Funebrarum have been steadily releasing material for the past seventeen years, starting with three demos after the band’s inception in 2000, resulting in the release of their debut full-length album, Beneath the Columns of Abandoned Gods, in 2001. After some splits and EPs, their massive effort, The Sleep of Morbid Dreams, dropped in 2009. It is 2017, and last year’s very quiet release of the band’s latest EP, Exhumation of the Ancient, marks another milestone and evolutionary stop-gap for the band before the current line-up debuts a full-length album in the near future.
The current line-up of Funebrarum includes founding member Daryl Kahan on vocals, along with three new members recruited in 2015, who are also decorated members of underground death metal collectives such as Undergang, Ascended Dead, Ghoulgotha and Trepanation to name some. Amongst them, Charlie Koryn and Sam Osborne are veteran musicians who inject plenty of death metal valor to this vaunted act.
Funebrarum’s The Sleep of Morbid Dreams was an album considered to be a pinnacle effort for the band, launching a brutal, almost buzzsaw Swedeath approach that would be hailed by critics and fans alike. Although it may be true that Funebrarum has somehow regressed into its dark atmospheric death metal origins, this resulting effort is nonetheless a work of massive aesthetic value to fans of the band.
While The Sleep of Morbid Dreams was more aggressive, ripping through blast sections often and featured a guitar sound similar to the aforementioned Swedeath buzzsaw style, the new EP, Exhumation of the Ancient, makes use of much needed nuance in the songwriting and arrangements, adding timeless ancient dark death metal appeal for the minions who still crave the best this style has to offer. Released only on vinyl, Exhumation of the Ancient serves as a precursory for the band’s new full-length album, and little is known as of now what that new album will sound like.
But if Exhumation of the Ancient is to showcase a listen at the band’s new direction, it will simply prove that Funebrarum intend to grow in instrumentation and songwriting aesthetics besides simply blasting and shredding in a less multi-dimensional capacity. They instead inject some groove, some Immolation-style stop and go progressive qualities and some Finnish doom-death to their diversified style. Exhumation of the Ancient is twenty minutes of superb dark death metal. The music conjures atmosphere while introducing plenty of catchy riffery throughout the EP’s runtime.
Funebrarum has never been swayed into major label album sales and big tours. They reserve their music for die-hard fans of the band and the largely DIY-oriented underground death metal scene. Should this line-up stay intact for the time being, it will be exciting to hear more material from Funebrarum. I was almost skeptical of the new material when news broke out that the band had done a complete transition away from their The Sleep of Morbid Dreams full-length, but Funebrarum maintains my love for the band’s discography with its savvy, addictive and highly enjoyable EP, Exhumation of the Ancient.
This EP also offers maturity in the band’s songwriting approach more obviously than anything Funebrarum have released through the years. The blast sections are still here, but the doom transitions and textured guitar layers and screeches help include added dimensions to the band’s sound. It is also worth mentioning how the band adds heavy doses of sound samples and discordant bass to the band’s repertoire. The production allows for these aural textures to be heard clearly. The drums are also captured wonderfully on vinyl for fans of analog format. This EP surprisingly leaves The Sleep of Morbid Dreams in the dust, slowing down without boring listeners, playing blast sections faster than the band has ever done, all while featuring catchy riffs played with a cleaner guitar sound.