Genre: Death Metal | Label: Cyclone Records
Location: Clifton, NJ| Listen: Bandcamp
If you were a death metal fan in the 2000’s, there’s a good chance you stumbled upon New Jersey’s Funebrarum. This American death metal group eschewed all modern death metal trends of that decade – you wouldn’t be labeling this as brutal or technical death metal, nor was it melodic like many of their Swedish counterparts. Instead, Funebrarum were at the forefront of a wave of bands that were playing dark and cavernous death metal with its influences in many early 90’s bands. As the decade closed, Funebrarum released their sophomore album in 2009, “The Sleep of Morbid Dreams,” which has certainly stood the test of time all these years later.
Funebrarum is from New Jersey, so it’s pretty easy to attribute their sound to the NYDM scene, and to a point that’s accurate. It is comparably dark to bands like Incantation, utilizing doom metal sections and inhumanly low vocals. However, it is Finnish death metal that seems to be the primary influence on “The Sleep of Morbid Dreams,” as they share a common sense of dark melody, rhythmic feels, and knack for hooks with their Finnish counterparts. It’s easy to hear bands like Abhorrence, Convulse, Disgrace, and many others in these low tuned riffs. Often, they’ll utilize an evil sounding melody that’s over a fairly simple chord progression, and the kind of scales they use really relate it back to these Finnish greats. Hell, there’s even a quirky, Demilich like riff before the doom part later in “Beyond Recognition.”
Among many of the bands playing cavernous death metal around this time, Funebrarum certainly had a knack for having hooks in their songs, and they would do this by pairing a riff with plenty of identity, with a simple repeated vocal pattern. “Grave Reaper,” a track from a previous split with Interment, is a fan favourite due to its caveman bounce and recognizable chorus. Meanwhile, other songs will pair these absolutely flesh ripping tremolo riffs that carve out infectious patterns with yet another catchy vocal pattern. “Incineration of Mortal Flesh” is a prime example of this, you won’t miss the title of the track if you didn’t read it before hand. Likewise, the epic track “Nex Monumentum” gets away with doing this on a couple different parts, and they both really hit that sweet spot of where death metal should hit.
While a lot of these low tuned, cavernous death metal bands of this time would purposely present their music with raw or murky production, this not the case with Funebrarum. This is by no means a “modern” sounding recording, as there are no typewriter drums to be heard here. That being said, it is a fairly clear recording, and despite the low tuning, it’s not hard to distinguish the powerful bass and the heavy guitars from one another. The kick drums are present without being distracting, and the the toms are really in your face too. There’s some nice production touches like the keys in “Nex Monumentum” which add to that gloomy Finnish atmosphere even more. Overall, this is a fantastic sounding record that emphasizes the power of the riffs and performances without sucking the life out of it or making it too murky.
It’s been a dozen years since “The Sleep of Morbid Dreams” came out, and further established Funebrarum as one of the premiere bands in this era of death metal. By taking a huge amount of Finnish death metal influence and some remnants of NYDM, this record has a sound that just hits right when it comes to death metal. Many fans, myself included, have been anxiously awaiting the follow up record, as the few shorter releases they’ve released in the meantime have only heightened the anticipation. As such, there’s no better time to give this record another listen if you haven’t in a while, and I’m sure you’ll find it’ll set the bar pretty high for the follow up record that’s due out this year.