Arioch’s been known more in recent years for his powerful vocals that have become a trademark of Marduk’s sound over the past fourteen years, but his other band Funeral Mist has delivered violent and complex black metal for just as long. Since 2009’s Maranatha Marduk has released four full lengths so it wasn’t clear when Funeral Mist would return, but this year it’s resurfaced with Hekatomb and is definitely worth the wait. With blistering instrumentation that leaves behind scorched earth and subtle nuances that give each track an identity of its own, this is an immense effort that has real staying power.
There are a lot of familiar genre elements at work on Hekatomb, but they’re woven together in a way that results in a sense of unpredictability. This is clear right from the start of “In Nomine Domini” which kicks things off with a foreboding baseline and lingering guitar melodies before transitioning into all-out blasting that’s keen on destroying everything in its path. You can tell that both Arioch and drummer Lars B are seasoned veterans, as the performances are tightly performed and the transitions are more fluid than a lot of other black metal bands that go for sheer speed. What sets Hekatomb apart are the subtle nuances to each song, making each attack fluid and hard to pin down. There’s a good deal of variation to the drum fills and riffing, with even some of the more standard black metal sounding moments giving way to something distinguishable. “Cockatrice” is a clear highlight, as not only does it have one of the more intense solos out there but the way it fades out to haunting ambiance and then back to blasting without warning is stunning.
Arioch has a recognizable vocal style, and no matter which of his bands you’re listening to you can be sure the performance will be one that stands out. This once again the case here, and the screams and growls are able to match the level of chaotic intensity that the instrumentals provide on each and every song. There’s a considerable amount of range, with Arioch heading from deep growls to ear piercing screams that are as jagged and sharp as one can get. All the while, they’re delivered in a way that makes the lyrics easier to pick out than is typical for the genre. It’s another element of Hekatomb that puts the album into that upper tier and provides additional staying power.
Funeral Mist takes the chaotic black metal elements that have become so familiar after all these years and puts some spins of its own on the style. The playing is tight and precise, even with abrupt tempo changes and sections where blasting stops on a dime, but most of all this album has the blistering and scorching guitar work that will stick with you for some time. Hekatomb is out now on Norma Evangelium Diaboli.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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