Being at the bridge between traditional and more extreme forms of metal, death-thrash isn’t a style with a lot of clout. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the sub-genre, but its middle ground status means that most peoples’ preferences fall to one side of the genre or the other. While there’s no denying the beauty of heavy metal, readers will recognize that I fall on the brutal side of the scale. But that’s not to say that I can’t appreciate a good death-thrash album, and Odin willing, that’s what Funeral Twilight is going to be; a rough, raspy romp between galloping power and grisly destruction.
Death thrash doesn’t try to succeed on atmosphere or emotional content, and any good band knows that their only hope of success is to bring the riffs and bring them quick. Funeral Twilight presents no shortage of such riffage, and it’s hurried along like good thrash should be. “Your Grave” gets things going in a hurry and makes a great first impression, combining memorable riffs with a raspy vocal hook. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it does get the wheel spinning. The album’s best songs rely on this sort of straightforward, melodeath-influenced feel, and the late-album track “Buried” provides the b-side a comparable boost in energy.
But a couple of fun cuts does not a great album make. When Dreaming Dead pull their shit together, they can kick a bit of ass, but this poop reliably resists being grouped. On the front half of the album, “Funeral Twilight” and “No Masters” go for a slightly progressive feel, with more disjointed riffing, and though they’re not poorly done, the riffs and the songs just aren’t that compelling. The follow-up to those two is the lugubrious instrumental, “Remnants of a Time Long Forgotten,” which really saps the album’s momentum, and it never quite recovers. Even “Unseeing,” the supposed climax of the album, spends half of its runtime on a dreary introduction and the rest on a riff that gets only halfway to the majesty that it’s reaching for. I’m all for an album switching gears on the final song, but after the band have been running hot for so long, the only direction they could shift was down.
Funeral Twilight‘s very dry production is quite fitting and does a fine job evoking mid-period Death, though there’s not a lot of emphasis on their DiGiorgio equivalent. The lower register is muddy and muffled, which is a bit at odds with the sharp and crackling guitars. Guitarist/vocalist Elizabeth Schall’s raspy Chuck impression fits right into this anachronistic production, and her performance is diverse and fun throughout the record, especially on “Buried,” which peeks just above the rest of the record in overall quality. That being said, the retro sound of Funeral Twilight takes some getting used to and though it compliments the music well, I’m not very impressed with the end result.
Dreaming Dead have a couple of aces to play, but beyond those their hand is far from flush. “Your Grave” and “Buried” are worth hearing if you’re a fan of death thrash, but I would predict that Funeral Twilight won’t impress or stick with listeners for very long. It’s an average album, through and through, and the band, though competent, exhibit neither excellent writing nor dazzling performances. This album will leave my rotation as quickly as it came, and though I don’t begrudge it our time together, I won’t miss it either. The year continues its predictably slow start.