Funeral Doom

Depression Overload – metal playlist

Funeral doom and depressive black metal is the bread and butter of this album (a playlist really, but I consider my playlists albums). It visits only a few other despairing terrains. This is no melancholy walk in the park as my previous playlists (Monumental funeral doom melancholy and Post-rock melancholia) but pure despair and depression. The darkness on the album is not sourced from incoherent extreme sewer sounds but tightly sounding bands that combine a great melodic sense with a feeling of hopelessness and misery.

1. It would not make sense to reveal all the cards in the beginning, so the beginning of the album is a light descent with some melodic funeral doom.

Shape of Despair is a band many of the melancholic melodic funeral doom bands model after. Their second album Angels of Distress (2001) is the biggest landmark yet strangely I seem to have picked tracks from their two newer ones in my playlists. Entwined in Misery is the best piece of their 2004 album Illusion’s play. It features hauntingly beautiful background keys that have lasted the touch of time extremely well. Pasi Koskinen’s growling kept getting deeper as Shape of Despair progressed in their career, peaking here. The new vocalist Henri Koivula (Throes of Dawn) does a tremendous job on their newest release, Monotony Fields (2015) as well.
All these years in absence
…forgiveness does not reveal itself…

…and emptiness falls before me…
And silences this life,


2. One of the best releases of 2015 Leviathan’s Scar Sighted is based on black metal but at it’s darkest it is pure nihilistic funeral doom. The title track is especially gloomy. The tortured screams and bright piano create a real contrast of depression and light.
Nil light reigns
Only tattered accusations
Paling to the comparison
Now utterly drained
And all wonder is banished
Life after life
Absorbing
Nothing


3. Evoken – Mournful Refusal. Evoken could be called a successor of nihilistic old school funeral bands like Esoteric, also having more in common with Thergothon and Skepticism than Shape of Despair. 2005 release Antithesis of Light (what a title!) benefits of its modern and crushingly heavy production. Hear also the dynamics, how beautifully Evoken has crafted a chorus with clean guitar and lovely bursty double bass drumming.
Waiting only prolongs the wanting
Living only prolongs the arriving
Death knows no regret of a mournful refusal

In sporadic tone, the composition of beauty
Turned grim and cold…


4. Lifelover (what a band name!), a lot of people loathe them and for a reason. Their sounds take some time to get used to, drum machine and quite amateuristic guitar sounds. Upon listening their masterpiece, Konkurs for the first time I thought: “Is this the masterpiece? Really?” But it’s a stunning grower with a soul that is very hard to find on any other release. The pitch-black humour in the depressive lyrics is the icing on the cake.

Stängt p.g.a Semester (closed because of semester) is an interlude unlike anything else on this album. A beautifully haunting acoustic track with despairing lyrics. One of the only instances were being forced to study ~8 years of Swedish in school has paid off.

På Svenska
Vem behöver glädjas åt sig själv
När vi kan skratta åt andra?
Vem behöver ha ett syfte
När det är urvattnat och saknar mening?
Vem behöver säga att “Jag mår bra”
När ändå ytan är det viktiga?
Innan jag åkte, lämnade jag bomber,
Där ni känner er som mest trygga
Jag kommer inte tillbaka
English translation
Who needs to be happy about their selves
When we can laugh at others?
Who needs a purpose
When it’s all dried up and lacks meaning?
Who needs to say “I feel good”
When the surface is what counts?

Before I left, I planted bombs
Where you feel most secure
I won’t return

5. A lot of people thought it a dick move when a couple years ago Ghost Bath swindled in being a Chinese band, but turned out to be American. They said that was because they wanted to keep actual identities/location anonymous and for affection of Chinese culture.

Prejudice labelled aside Moonlover is a fine release but Happyhouse is the lethal injection Ghost Bath is at it’s best in prescribing. Happyhouse brings in mind the “Mental Central Dialog” themes of Lifelover. It’s bright melodies and incoherently painful screaming vocals clash together to create a feeling of an mental asylum. The melodies are a bit predictable but twisted a little obscure, perhaps wee bit out of tune and so fucking good, all this predictability is a strength. A downright shuddering tune.


6. Drudkh – Solitude. Yes it’s a great track and yes it’s pretty long with a lot of repetition, in the right mode Solitude becomes a very meditative track. Solitude is one of the only instances of more melancholic terrain than the rest of the tracks, it’s true potential lies in its slow and somber orchestral main melody.

Solitude’s lyrics are from a poem of an Ukrainian artist Taras Shevchenko (Thoughts of mine, О thoughts of mine, 1839). The familiar slavic dramatic melancholy is easy to discover.

Ukrainian
Журбою
Не накличу собі долі,
Коли так не маю.
Нехай злидні живуть три дні –
Я їх заховаю,
Заховаю змію люту
Коло свого серця,
Щоб вороги не бачили,
Як лихо сміється…
Нехай думка, як той ворон,
Літає та кряче,
А серденько соловейком
Щебече та плаче
Нишком – люди не побачать,
То й не засміються…
Не втирайте ж мої сльози,
Нехай собі ллються,
Чуже поле поливають
Щодня і щоночі,
Поки попи не засиплють
Чужим піском очі…
English translation
Never knew I joy, nor will it
Come to me if I
Grieve ’thout end…. Let grief be short-lived,
Let it snake-like lie
Coiled within my breast and hidden
From the evil sight
Of my foes…. And may its laughter
Reach them not…. By night
And by day my thoughts are ravens;
Let them croak while my
Heart, a songbird, trills and warbles,
While it softly sighs,
Sighs and moans with none to hear it
Or to taunt it … Pray,
Let me weep, and do not try to
Wipe my tears away.
Let them flow and flood the alien
Field till that a priest
Comes and covers me with alien
Earth…. Ah, me! No peace
Grief will bring me….

English translation by Irina Zheleznova taken from http://taras-shevchenko.infolike.net/t-shevchenko-tr-by-irina-zheleznova-poem-thoughts-of-mine-o-thoughts-of-mine.html) I cannot speak Ukrainian so the English and Ukrainian parts may not match exactly.


7. Moonsorrow – Kuolleiden Maa. Listen, Moonsorrow is not most known for their depressive black metal vibes. But on Kuolleiden Maa they are nothing else.

Finnish
Olen siellä mistä kaikki alkaa uudelleen
Missä valo ei värejä näytä
Kaikkialle levittäytyy tasainen niitty
Vain taivas ylläni vaalenee
Käy rauhaisena vierelläni tuuli
Itse silmäni suljen ja itken
Tänne jään, kaipuuta vailla
Rikotun henkeni veden virtaan annan
English translation
I am there where everything
starts and
Where the light shows no colours
An even meadow stretching everywhere
Only the sky above me growing lighter
A calm breeze is blowing beside me | I close my
eyes and weep | Here I
shall remain, without yearning | My broken spirit I shall give to the streaming
waters
depression overload_edit

Illustration from British Library free to use Flickr

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Monumental Funeral Doom Melancholy playlist

This compilation is based on the best bits of melancholic funeral doom bands with some more funeral bits of melodic death doom and traditional doomster(s) in the midst. The playlist continues in the vein of a previous Post-rock Melancholia playlist.

The concept of funeral doom has at least two different schools. The “original” sound with bands like Thergothon and Esoteric is very nihilistic and evil mass of sound. Skepticism has something in common with those bands but the themes often revolve around nature. The other newer school fronted by Shape of Despair is not at all about evil but of a weeping melancholy. Both schools are obviously shared by the supremely slow tempos.

This compilation has a lot of content from the melancholic funeral school which I am personally more fond of. Skepticism and Thergothon have never appealed to me even though I enjoy some bits by Evoken, who are a direct successor of the old school funeral.

1. Half Light by one man Swedish outfit Doom:VS is quite a hard-hitter but with a superbly memorable chorus and lyrics that are almost as melancholic melodic funeral doom as possible.

2. Frailty is from the doom legend Paradise Lost‘s more recent albums, Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us. A really memorable entirety. The track is perhaps a bit curious for a funeral doom collection but the weeping guitar lines in the end half are strongly reminiscent of many a track here.
I only realized the track’s true potential as I keep getting reminded of it in my work, the material I handle frequently has definitions of The Frailty Syndrome (Frailty is a common geriatric syndrome that embodies an elevated risk of catastrophic declines in health and function among older adults. Frailty is a condition associated with ageing, and it has been recognized for centuries.).

From the third track Lost & Catatonic the compilation slips into even deeper waters. It meanders effortlessly between very heavy, symphonic almost black metal bits and an extremely catchy and soft chorus. Lost & Catatonic was originally one of the tracks that triggered the biggest emotional response from Swallow The Sun‘s newest album Songs of the North 1. Later it was reported that in live setting a session guitarist would sometimes play the track instead of Juha Raivio. Understandable obviously given by the recent death of his spouse, the magnificently voiced vocalist Aleah Stanbridge.

4. Fragments by French band Remembrance is from their album Silencing the Moments (2008). Really some cliche melancholic funeral doom. It has all the basic elements from deep male growling to sparse hits, catatonic drummer, at times heavy at times extremely gentle guitars, background keyboards and angelic female vocals yet at their best they are tweaked so well it functions perfectly. Fragments is the song that has stayed with me most. I can’t think of any faults in it, its atmosphere is a real appealing slumbering mass. The hard & sparse hitting lamenting section at 5 minute mark is one of my favourites in any modern funeral doom band’s catalogue.

5. Shape of Despair is a band many of the more modern melancholic melodic funeral doom bands model after. Their second album Angels of Distress (2001) is the biggest landmark yet strangely I seem to have picked tracks from their two newer ones in my playlists. The Distant Dream of Life from Monotony Fields (2015) is nearly an absurdly short track for a funeral doom piece, clocking only 5.53 but its all tightly packed emotion. In the newest album Shape of Despair changed vocalist, and while I absolutely love Pasi Koskinen’s deep growling, the new vocalist Henri Koivula (Throes of Dawn) does a tremendous job as well.

6. Weighed Down With Sorrow by Insomnium is the best track they’ve ever made full stop. Never before or after have they gone this deep in doomish melancholy, the memorably sullen lyrics could be straight from the Finnish national epic Kalevala.

7. Her Withering Petals by The Fall of Every Season is 15 minutes long which may be a bit too much but its atmosphere stays intact and boy when the end comes, is it emotional or what. Machinae Supremacy sings about video game and action movie cliches in Player One “and in the end i’ll get the girl”. Translated into funeral doom, the same cliche is straight from the handbook of The Fall of Every Season:
This imagined warm touch was his relief.
Kneeling at her feet, ready for his sleep.
Had no longer wish to arise.
Put her arm around him, no more cries.
Slept there until the fierce cold awoke
to erase all tracks of life.