There’s always risk involved when you reach into the Grymm Grab Bag™. Sometimes, I unearth gems that impress and floor me, and then I get those that just don’t even. I can say with absolute confidence that I’ve never pulled a release from not only a new band, but also from a new label, and that is exactly what I grabbed this week. Montreal’s Funeste is a brand spankin’ new duo on a brand spankin’ new label (Black Element Productions), playing brand spankin’ not-new-at-all black metal. Their debut EP, Le Triomphe du Charnier, is looking to put both band and label on the charred map of darkness and woe. How does it fare?
Well, after a short, atmospheric, and somewhat eerie intro that lasts a bit longer than two minutes, things begin tepidly on “Diptera.” The riffs lumber forth slowly with atonal feedback screeches and somewhat sloppy drumming, which is astounding as I later found out that the drums are completely programmed. Guitarist, bassist, and vocalist Y. Panos recently graduated from the Vindsval School of Hallway Vocals and it shows with his maniacal-yet-distant screams, screeches, and howls. For as evil as this is trying to be, I keep finding myself nodding off due to the lack of interesting riffs by Panos and co-conspirator L. Fradet, as well as the raw-but-not-engaging vocals. At least the drums get a little bit more exciting towards the end, but it’s not enough to make me hold up invisible fruit, make painful O-faces, or burn dilapidated church lumber in my fireplace, pretending to sacrifice to Satan, in the dead of August in Florida.
Which is not to say that this is a horrible album, as there are splashes of great ideas here and there within Le Triomphe du Charnier. When they dip into atmospheric waters, such as the ingenious middle of “Le Passager Invisible,” they nail their Blut Aus Nord influence to a T. It’s just too bad that the actual metal side of the equation is soporific. My attention was grasped during closer “Hilkhot Avodat Kokhavim,” and that’s only because I was trying to figure out what movie the English samples were taken from (and I still can’t figure them out, by the way), and not because of the actual music involved. That’s definitely not what I call a good thing.
The production is another brittle bone of contention. The guitars are brought a little too high in the mix, with little-to-no bass presence to speak of. Vocals have that cavernous, empty hallway sound, which works with mixed results. The drum machine thankfully doesn’t sound too much like a drum machine, as it has some much-needed life on the album. But this is a 22-minute EP that feels like an hour. It’s Godflesh without the coldness, Blut Aus Nord without the majesty, and Bethlehem without the Lexapro withdrawal symptoms.
But, again, there’s hope. Maybe with some better fleshed-out ideas, Funeste will be on to something. As it stands right now, you’re better off getting your fix of depressed black metal elsewhere. I hear Vardan has a new album coming out next week. It’s been a few days since the last one.