Funeral Phantoms

Written by: AB on 20/10/2008 01:52:30

With the Danish death metal scene having had a rush of fresh blood in the last few years, it'll be interesting to see how one of the Danish DM scene veterans fare with their newest release. I am of course talking about Exmortem, who's been a surety for quality death metal during the last 15 years. The last few albums have seen a steady rise in aggression and speed, with their latest before "Funeral Phantoms", 2005's "Nihilistic Contentment" was almost grind-like in its Hate Eternal-ish style of fast, murderous death metal.

However, with "Funeral Phantoms", Exmortem changes their style of music drastically. Gone are the frenzied break-neck speed assaults, at least on the surface. Taking a full 180 degree turn, Exmortem now treats us to music that hauls itself along at an almost absurdly slow pace creating an aura of such dismal despair that one can’t help but feel utterly crushed by the relentless death metal. This feeling isn't accidental. Death is the prime inspiration here, and it shows! A lot of work has gone into making everything - artwork, lyrics and music fit together - and while the artwork especially helps in setting the mood, the music is obviously what really brings the feeling of death to life.

The music is characterised by the chugging guitars, which create a wall of sound and don't allow speed to enter the songs but in very small doses. Intricate riffs and signature changes make the songs avoid getting monotonous, in fact make them hauntingly interesting - each of the tracks is different from the others, but all share the same feeling of hopelessness and human despair. Just listen to the slow brutality of songs such as "The Vultures Gather", album opener "Black Opium" or the almost Immolation-like "Fixed In Slime". Even though the pace is as slow as is, the drums go from both dragging themselves along, following the almost tardy chainsaw work, to blasting in the background, which yet again fills the songs with motion vivacity, even though some of them slow down so much that they make Bolt Thrower seem fast! Slow doesn't mean sluggish though! The overall feeling reeks with barely contained anger and abhorrence of human stupidity, a feeling that is very much helped on its way by the abysmal snarl of vocalist Simon Petersen. A mix between death metal growls and the more shrieking screams of war metal, the vocals suits this music perfectly. And not everything is slow all the time either. Every once in a while Exmortem will unleash a grindy attack on the world in the style of their older records; full force, no prisoners, die all. Listen to the brutal opener of "Anger Trumpet Blow" or the hate and contempt-filled fast little gem "Salvation" or album closer "A View To A Death In The Morning". Exmortem kind of reverse the tried and tested Suffocation style of brutal death metal - brutal fast death metal that slows down into breakdowns - into brutal and extremely slow death metal that suddenly speeds up into a frenzy.

Such well executed death metal in this style hasn't been seen since the old Incantation. This is pure death metal, but the bleakness and grim lyrical universe clearly draws inspiration from Black Metal, which is also evident in the music itself. Give the excellent title track "Funeral Phantoms" a spin and the parallel is clearly found in both drumming and riffs. Exmortem is a slavering beast that will show no mercy, but rather drag you with them into a world of hopelessness, despair and death. Fixed in slime indeed!

Download: Black Opium, Fixed In Slime, A View To A Death In The Morning
For The Fans Of: Incantation, Immolation
Listen: MySpace

Release date 27.10.2008
Mighty Music
Provided by Target ApS

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