Funeral Moth - _Dense Fog_
(Weird Truth Productions, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (8.5 out of 10)
It's great to see an album recorded by band members who own the very label by which said album was released, an album that showcases the musician / label owner's love for a certain genre, and see how that particular person translates their musical vision and passion into a recorded piece. Case in point: Mr. Makoto Fujishima, owner of Weird Truth Production and vocalist / guitar player for Funeral Moth.

Japanese label Weird Truth Production has been the purveyor of quality doom metal for the last fifteen years, by which great albums have been released courtesy of doom's elite, such as Worship, Funeralium, Ataraxie, Imindain, Nyarlathotep and Mournful Congregation, if to name only a few of the monsters signed to this excellent label, whose albums were released under the Weird Truth banner in any point in time

However, not all doom enthusiasts will appreciate Weird Truth's outputs, since the majority of them -- and those that are among the best of the lot -- play on the very primal, extreme, stripped-down edge of the spectrum: Weird Truth Productions is all about the most austere, barren, torturous and basic doom metal in existence.

Funeral Moth's _Dense Fog_ is by no means different, as it treads the jagged line that marks the border between the most desolate musical provinces, a line they walk upon with seeming ease and genre-accommodating prowess. These provinces, these macabre regions, host two of the most hostile denizens of the genre, namely Winter and Worship, and Funeral Moth's full-length debut album is where they meet; take the former's _Into Darkness_ and fuse it with the latter's _Dooom_ and you'd get _Dense Fog_, more or less.

_Dense Fog_ serves as a distilled, purified doom-sentiment conveying apparatus, more than it serves as a musical artifact par excellence; on both ends, from the musicians' standpoint and from the listener's reaction -- the latter being the ultimate sink for these sentiments, without whom the musical creation would have been virtually pointless -- this album is more of an experiment in the language of doom than anything else; and like in the case of every new-ish, developing language that's in the midst of its evolutionary process, that language can often sound crude, unintelligible, primitive, clumsy and erroneous to a certain degree, alongside sounding like poetry in the making.

This experiment in the language of doom dubbed as _Dense Fog_ is sometimes clumsy and occasionally majestic, but its clumsiness is inherent and self-conscious; for Funeral Moth create the simplest of songs with virtually zero dynamics and nothing too exceptionally unique when being judged riff by riff, second by second -- but zoom out and see the whole picture, and it suddenly becomes magnificent, far removed from any shred of pomposity or bombast.

Skeletal to the very core, it is this harrowing primitive essence -- that uses the crustiest of growling vocals and the grittiest of twin guitars bellowing the simplest of riffs ornamented by yet simpler and excruciatingly slow drumming and bass line -- that highlights the band's ability to write music that's not redundant or uninspired or boring, despite having all the potential and the (counter-productive) faculties to make the music become just that: redundant, uninspired and fucking boring.

Funeral Moth probably, consciously or otherwise, wanted to experiment with the very basics of doom's etiquette and see where it would take them, proving while they do so, that this particular style of monastic, hermetic, monolithic, primordial auditory beast is capable of articulating a vast spectrum of emotions and visions. From the despairing, light-less desolation of Winter's plodding sickness to the twisted, dissonant epic tales of morbidity portrayed so convincingly on Worship's anti-life tunes, Funeral Moth cover the whole of that spectrum with avid conviction and droning darkness. However, if you're not the kind of extreme doom fan that appreciates the ugliest and the simplest of doom expressions, _Dense Fog_ might be inconsequential to you, as you might constantly be asking yourself, during the listening session: "where's the fuckin' music?!"

The music is there, and it is beautiful in its ugly, insidious fashion and in its intricate, deep melancholy that lurks just below the surface. The opening track is a brooding, contemplative piece harnessing those Stygian and beyond-massive growls ("sung" in Japanese, by the way) accompanied by a distortion-less guitar simply strumming and an occasional drum beat; an odd, dark lullaby that occupies a good six-minute portion of the track until the advent of the very first distorted guitars, setting the mood and forging a wrist-slicing atmosphere before the big, bad, all-out metallic onslaught begins.

There is never a real onslaught here, however; everything is tamely calculated and purposefully restrained; the music is agonizingly slow but never 'empty', and it never fails to impress or intrigue the listener with what's unfolding. Some long, meditative moments are to be found here, adorning the severe facade like lilies among thorns; both facets of the music complement one another in a seamless manner -- a dichotomy so stark it is simply, uncannily beautiful.

The bottom line is: if you're an advanced extreme doom metal aficionado liking your doom very much metallic yet very raw and unsophisticated (i.e. fundamental); or if you're an enthusiast of the aforementioned Winter and Worship, as well as of names such as Obskure Torture, Ataraxie or Funeralium, take this dark ride with _Dense Fog_ to the most profound reaches of the human soul and be prepared for a journey of a lifetime.


(article published 15/5/2014)

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