Sentenced - _The Funeral Album_
(Century Media, 2005)
by: Pedro Azevedo (6 out of 10)
Nearly four months before _The Funeral Album_ became available to the public, Sentenced made their "funeral statement", announcing the album would be their last one. What I find particularly interesting about this situation is that according to the band, the decision was taken during 2004. Since the album was recorded between November 2004 and January 2005, one question arises in my mind: did they "choose the noose" before, during, or after the recording sessions? The answer to this question would, in my opinion, go a long way to explaining the contents of this album. I realize they most likely decided to quit before or during the recordings, but I can certainly imagine the band looking back upon the finished tracks and finding themselves stuck in a deep rut; what I have difficulty imagining is a band who were well aware this would be their last work together producing such standard fare.

No, _The Funeral Album_ is not a bad record if you like the band's "suicide rock" era; but it fails to bring anything new and interesting to the table, or take existing elements to new extremes. It doesn't even contain the band's ultimate hit song, one for which they would always be remembered instead of any of the other damn good singles they have released over the years. Unfortunately, the most interesting moments in the album occur on a couple of minute-long instrumental tracks: the death metal flashback of "Where Waters Fall Frozen" and the sombre acoustic "Karu". The latter precedes the band's farewell song, "End of the Road". At least Sentenced have the decency of going out with a contender for best track on the album, featuring the disc's most emotional point with the smart use of a funeral bell early on.

"May Today Become the Day" opens the album in rather upbeat but acceptable fashion, though nowhere near as good or emotional as their previous album opener, "Cross My Heart and Hope to Die" from _The Cold White Light_. Indeed, despite the album's funereal theme, the music comes across as rather happy much too often -- which isn't new with Sentenced, but it's worse this time around. Next up is hit single "Ever-Frost": ultimately an average Sentenced song, with a memorable chorus and main melody that any fan of the band will basically have heard before in a slightly altered version. The following track, "We Are But Falling Leaves", comes relatively close to measuring up to some of the band's best moments. As the reasonable ballad "Her Last 5 Minutes" concludes the opening third of the disc, followed by the aforementioned instrumental "Where Waters Fall Frozen", _The Funeral Album_ enters its make or break stage. At thirteen tracks in total, and after an acceptable but unimpressive start, the opportunity was still there to deliver a great opus. The harmonica that opens the next track, "Despair-Ridden Hearts", provides a pretty good indication to the contrary however. Until the finishing track and the brief instrumental that precedes it, the album reveals little that is new or better than their previous albums -- indeed it even struggles to match the inspiration on most of those records, despite reasonable numbers such as "Consider Us Dead" and the aforementioned closing duo (the final instrumental section of which sounds strangely like Amorphis to me for some reason).

_The Funeral Album_ is a decent record with a few tracks that fans will remember and enjoy, but no real classics and hardly any worthwhile experimentation, considering this is the last album of the Finns' career. Unfortunately this is by no means their best work, and overall it isn't even up to par with its already slightly underwhelming predecessor _The Cold White Light_ -- which seems to gain a whole new vibrancy now in comparison. _The Funeral Album_'s somewhat weaker production job does not help much, either. During this "suicide rock" phase of theirs, Sentenced succeeded in creating some memorable, genuinely emotional tracks that retained a real sense of (for the lack of a better word) groove. It is a shame they are no more, for they created some enjoyable music, but a record as lukewarm as _The Funeral Album_ should at least make parting easier for their grieving dedicated fans.


(article published 13/5/2005)

3/5/2000 A Bromley Sentenced: Living on the Edge
10/1/1998 A Bromley Sentenced: Never to Be Freed
6/7/1997 A Bromley Sentenced: The Changelings
7/3/2002 P Azevedo 7.5 Sentenced - The Cold White Light
3/5/2000 P Schwarz 8 Sentenced - Crimson
9/1/1998 P Schwarz 9 Sentenced - Frozen
3/10/1998 A Bromley 8 Sentenced - Story: A Recollection
2/4/1997 A Bromley 8 Sentenced - Down
12/13/1995 G Filicetti 7 Sentenced - Love and Death
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