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Funeral Mourning : Inertia of Dissonance (A Sermon in Finality)

Barely moving, Funeral Mourning's last full length album shows you what pure desolation sounds like.

In 2016, a year after Funeral Mourning was raised from the dead, came this full-length release continuing the direction of pure Funeral Doom and taking it into a new level of excellence. It is probably their greatest work, where masterfully crafted atmosphere is combined with amazing songwriting skills that make you indulge in the music itself. It does not just drown you in atmosphere and oppressive tension, but you can actively follow where the guitars lead you. As the title suggests, the sound is truly dissonant without sounding forced or excessive, the effect comes from the leads that soar above slow guitars plodding along in grave procession. The album is composed of six tracks: three main songs separated by very short acoustic interludes, or - as they are called - sermons.

The main tracks are all above the ten minute mark and represent music from the grave - similar to Of Darkness, minus the industrial elements, or Mistress of the Dead for the pure, simple and unforgiving Funeral Doom echoing from the crypts. But even Catacombs did not sound so beyond the veil of life, maybe Hierophant came close but they were rawer and more sinister. This is not even sinister; this is music for apparitions, music for ghosts wandering forever through barren lands unable to find peace. They know the wandering will never cease, they have long since lost any strength, spirit or hope, and all trace of light is gone.

The first song is the darkest one, whilst 'Whom Shepherd Seeds Of Discord' is the shortest and most emotional, melancholic and beautiful. The central melody that accompanies the whole track actually resembles the main theme from My Dying Bride's 'The Cry of Mankind' - of course, much slower and bleaker - but it fits perfectly, sounding twisted and contrasting in this forlorn atmosphere. The prolonged ending of 'Dismal Veil of Nothingness' is another highlight and reminds me of Worship's debut demo closure with its slow chugging guitar section foreshadowing menacing and impending doom, signifying the end is nigh and providing a feeling of finality. Then, after one final ascending melody that represents the ascension of the soul, a sustained drone note is all that left in the silence.

On the other hand, the sermons represent the longing for a life that is lost - bright, acoustic guitar notes, very light and gentle in mood and sound. Although really well composed and wonderful to listen to, these nice pieces of music simply do not belong here - even though they are gravely titled they are not gravely played. They were probably intended to relieve the tension, and in that they succeed, but when listening to such an album I do not want to be relieved: I want the tension, depression and desolation to build up and not let go, to be maximized and unbearable near the end. Instead, the light folky guitar acts like shards of light into the void. It is serene, almost energetic and cheerful and lightens the mood - it alleviates the pain well, but the album as a whole does not benefit from that disruption to an atmosphere where you really feel like you are in a pitch black hole. Thus, each subsequent main track has to start again from scratch - fortunately they waste no time in drawing the veil back over you, covering you from any light and happiness.

'Inertia of Dissonance' starts slowly with lifeless sighs, a guitar that is barely even there, trying to form, trying to move, trying to begin, without reason and without drive. Forlorn - the very first notes echo only this. Then it gains force and the morbid growl is let out together with the dragging guitar which is extremely drawn out, crawling with the slowest tempo possible, at times even reaching Beyond Black Void level: each chord is finite and dies out. The silences between the chords are loud; the emptiness is crawling, ready to engulf you. The drums sound really authentic and pleasant. They are solid and bring forceful thuds though they are so slow and rare, so far apart from each other that at times they cannot even provide tempo - almost too disconnected to form any rhythm, but able to accentuate the alienation.

The prolonged riffs are what drives the songs and gives them their main appeal. The guitar tone is perfect, quite warm, no Black Metal shrillness here. The lead melody is sublime and blissful carrying all the sorrow in the world, but past sorrow, from what was and what will never be, until even sorrow is lost, and there is longing for the desolation of the first era that made you feel alive. There is yearning, as you crave a sensation that makes you feel, but there are only forlorn melodies hinting of how that was, bringing vague memories of desperation now so far away and buried deep under desolation. These piercing guitar lines work marvels, just like Nortt's, acting like a long forgotten memory, a glimpse of something higher, of light, of emotion that creeps in and then returns to listlessness.

Rare clean guitar notes appear, making the journey bearable enough to reach the end of the river taking you to the underworld. Unlike the sermons, they shine like diamonds in the pitch black darkness, altogether reinforcing the desolate feeling, like gentle caress of death. The vocals are pure undead, no living creature can sound so ghastly and these dry semi whispered growls emit listlessness, lifelessness and everything in between. The distant moans that appear besides the sepulchral growls sound so strained, so weary of this life, hanging on their last drops of strength. You can hardly find more ghostly vocals than this - at times they become so tortured and faint it seems there is no strength at all to utter anything further.

The structures here are much more complex than on the demo, which was intended for those who just want to be locked in a pitch black chamber. Here the actual music counts, and it is brilliant and inventive. Sad leads accompany the slow funeral rhythm almost all of the time. It is a compromise, really - you cannot have such utter darkness as the demo offered and expect entertaining music when it instead needs to be pure and uncompromising. Here a lot of elements have been carefully added to make this a full, rich and nuanced experience. Of course only negative emotions are explored but they are not as death-fixated as before, there is sadness and even a bit of beauty - the soaring leads are really marvelous and strike emotional chords.

The cover art heavily resembles Nortt's 'Galgenfrist' (minus the noose hanging from the cloaked figure), but is even better. It looks splendid: less realistic and made up solely of black paint, matching the way Desolate rarely uses anything apart from shades of black within the music itself. The CD is nothing special - dark and gloomy like the rest of the music, undecipherable in a lot of places. The sound is good, although the production is not fantastic and there are some issues with the excessive bass spill along the way.

At every moment during the bleakest of journeys that are the main tracks of 'Inertia of Dissonance (A Sermon in Finality)' there is something that keeps your attention focused: the compositions are always wonderful, always a pleasure to listen to, gripping and morbid. The riffs and melody lines are dirge-like, slow and emotional, at times heart-rending. Despairing and discouraging, the darkness simply clings: every note is hopeless, every atmosphere despondent. For me, this album takes second place only to 'Galgenfrist' as being totally disheartening. And even though it does not reach the level of resignation found in Nortt's masterpiece it comes pretty damn close - so proceed with caution as it will leave you longing for more.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Pallid Coffin Spirit
2. Sermon – Threnody
3. Whom Shepherd Seeds of Discord
4. Sermon - Dirge
5. Dismal Veil of Nothingness
6. Sermon - End

Duration : Approx. 49 minutes

Visit the Funeral Mourning bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-03-01 by Klamerin Malamov
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