Funeral Mist - _Maranatha_
(Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2009)
by: Alexandra Erickson (9 out of 10)
Filthy, orthodox, unapologetic black metal only a mother could love... noisy, chaotic, but with a very definite spirit and direction. Arioch of Marduk fame is at the helm for Funeral Mist, and while there are definite Marduk tendencies brought to the table with this project, this is on the other end of the spectrum from Marduk as far as black metal in its popularity is concerned.

Arioch's unnerving abrasive vocals that sound as though they're being emanated from the very depths of his physical being carry _Maranatha_ from start to finish. Machine gunning drums countered by an annihilating guitar pulse keep the release grounded and very primal. Mired completely in religious references from track titles like "Sword of Faith" and "Jesus Saves!" to the album title itself (an Aramaic phrase found once in the Old Testament, meaning "O Lord, come!"), this is at its very core orthodox black metal, no holds barred. Wonderfully executed, it's dripping with a transcendental aura that one cannot help but respect. Unrelenting and gritty but countered with choral chanting that continues into a harmony beneath the layer of intolerance and filth above. Gorgeous song openings build up like a classic movie scene, quickening your heart's pace, keeping you enraptured until the song bursts through with the weight of a titan.

"Blessed Curse" is the longest track, ringing in at just shy of twelve minutes, and it is the pinnacle of this album. Haunting, slowed down just enough to turn the machine gun imagery off, melodic and oppressive in its atmosphere -- this is the swan song of _Maranatha_. Maybe it's the sheer intensity of the album as a whole and the profound respect it demands, the first time I heard "Blessed Curse" I almost broke down in tears. I find myself going back to that single track time and time again, and perhaps it's the length that allows it to develop the emotions it does, but its agonized black metal providing a backing to clips of an evangelical minister's sermon is a strong juxtaposition regardless of what realm you come from.

Don't come to this album expecting Marduk, you won't find it. It's more malevolent, more theistic, more profound... The album closes with the epic "Anti-Flesh Nimbus", which again couples religious audio clips (though this time harmonious instrumentals) with a dark metal underbelly, creating a gray area that is engulfing in its sheer magnitude. Slowed down considerably and with absolutely tortured vocals and lyrics that cut like a knife... He chose the right track to close the album with. For anyone looking for hyper intelligent black metal that requires you to listen to it in a room alone to absorb it fully, get your hands on this album.


(article published 4/1/2010)

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