When even doom is too fast…. it’s to funeral doom we turn!
Presented in alphabetical order as opposed to any kind of ranking….
Esoteric – The Pernicious Enigma (1997) [UK]
Two hours of horrifying funeral doom may sound like the ultimate nightmare but Esoteric’s sophomore album is so claustrophobically, hellishly and diabolically enchanting that it simply must be heard and remains one of the most compelling recordings in British doom metal history.
Released in 1997, these blackened, avant-garde, Brummie experimentalists redefined funeral doom with an unmistakable use of samples – buried deep in their murky low-end sound – to add bottomless layers to their dark and depressing sound.
Breaking this epic down into ‘must-hear’ tracks is fruitless, The Pernicious Enigma needs to be experienced as it was intended and absorbed whole. Our advice, take at least two weeks off work and immerse yourself in this grand and ambitious work of art, you may feel like ending it all by the time you’ve absorbed the entirety of this 2-disc record but at least you’ll be feeling something!
Today’s often vacuous excuse for modern metal doesn’t do that now does it!
Also recommended: Do not, under any circumstances, miss 1994’s Epistemological Despondency and 1999’s Metamorphogenesis as they’re as mandatory as The Pernicious Enigma!
Evoken – Embrace The Emptiness (1998) [USA]
At times, Embrace The Emptiness‘ stripped back approach to doom metal was so minimal it was practically non-existent. But, when Evoken did balance their atmospheric malaise with blasts of ultra-aggressive riffing and John Paradiso’s cavernous growls, they conjured some of the coldest slabs of misanthropic funeral doom ever released.
Not for the faint of heart, Embrace The Emptiness‘ songs were long (did you expect anything else?), suitably depressing and prone to flights of synth-enabled orchestral fancy, particularly on “Chime the Centuries End”.
Unsurprisingly, an easy ride this was not!
However, the likes of Lost Kingdom of Darkness, while brutal as fuck, challenged doom fans to join Evoken on their morbidly morose journey into the mire. Kudos if you were one of the brave souls who dared join them back in 1998!
The last truly great funeral doom album of the 90s.
Funeral – Tragedies (1995) [Norway]
Suffocatingly sombre and without hope, Tragedies was an album born to soundtrack the darkest of times.
This debut full-length album from Norway’s Funeral was somehow an anomaly in a scene that was still in its infancy, with its highly melodic nature, ethereal female vocals and gothic opulence counterbalancing the often 100% death/doom nature of its peers. Still resolutely funeral doom in concept – and as bleak as they come – Tragedies spoke to those of us dealing with unbearable grief like no other album before….and possibly since.
Depressing and cathartic in equal measure, the fragility of the human spirit has never been better represented than on this minor masterpiece.
Skepticism – Stormcrowfleet (1995) [Finland]
Both mesmerisingly and achingly beautiful in a way that only fans of funeral doom will fully understand, this genre-defining debut from Finland’s Skepticism is as beautifully mournful today as it was nearly 30 years ago.
From lumbering beats, crushingly bleak riffs and baritone growls come moments of tranquil semi-acoustic beauty, with Skepticism’s funeral march rhythms seamlessly merging with the near silence and sombre reflection of a wake.
The very nature of this controlled and mannered beast seems to inform a sense of stripped down necessity in Skepticism’s performance, with an overarching sense of purity and the deftness of human touch adding layers to the whole experience.
Thergothon – Stream From The Heavens (1994) [Finland]
Thergothon were a highly influential Finnish doom metal band who practically single-handedly pioneered the funeral doom sub-genre.
Unnervingly raw and hideously bleak, their sound was painfully slow, sloth-like even, barely able to heave its leaden weight from one song to the next andStream from the Heavens remains a catastrophic combination of crushing, plodding riffs accentuated by lead vocalist Niko Sirkiä’s death grunts (a vocal reminiscent of someone gargling concrete) and atmospherics that dripped with dread and despair.
On the odd occasion, often just before the point at which you are ready to end it all, Thergothon would throw some ambient noise into the mix, momentarily lifting you from your depression before rapidly reverting back to their signature, apocalyptic, sound; plunging you straight back into the abyss as the funeraldirge riffs engulf you once more.
Devastatingly depressing and not an easy listen but a unique, defining moment in doom metal history nonetheless.