Review by Fran on February 17, 2021.
This is probably the best black metal album from 2018. Nine years after the release of Maranatha, Arioch strikes back with the same collaborators (Devo as sound engineer and Lars B. on drums) but with a slightly different concept; less atmospheric and experimental, more direct and violent. It reflects on the shorter album length, that lasts around forty-five minutes. There's still space for new intriguing elements as always, I recognize some weird clean vocal choruses that sound very perverse and hopeless. There are also a few Gregorian chant adornments too in the ecclesiastical passages.
There's also a change in the production direction, this time they tidied up things a little bit in the mix and recording processes -as they did on the Devilry EP- but composition is as mean and obscure as always. I would dare to say that, the same way Marduk’s sound nurtured from Arioch’s contributions since "Plague Angel" to "Viktoria", this time Funeral Mist is slightly influenced by Morgan’s trademark uncompromised black metal brutality, that "Panzer Division" thing. This symbiosis resulted in what I consider the best black metal album of the year so far and definitely the best from Funeral Mist. In terms of composition it encompasses almost everything they have done before, but this time the bass guitar is relegated again to the background, it can be individually heard because the production is super professional but it doesn't play a lead role besides from some tiny arrangements in track seven, because slow passages were suppressed as the idea of the album was shorter and more aggressive songs.
The rest of the band's trademark sounds are there: Arioch’s moody vocals, effective fast tremolo pick and power chord combinations, heavy distorted bass and pummeling drums featuring blasts beats and tom fills at hyper fast speeds. Maranatha is still valid and sounds very refreshing and maybe more unique, but this record is a little better because of the upgrade in the production and maturity in artistic direction. Overall, the concept is more defined and better coined than on any previous album by the band.
Rating: 9.6 out of 102.48k
Review by Felix on April 30, 2019.
It is always nice to get a confirmation and the here presented album confirms my old thesis that Swedish musicians are somewhat special. Funeral Mist's new work is nothing less than a very competent and brutal statement that black metal is still as vital as it can be. Aggression is its main ingredients, but the music cannot be reduced on a single emotion. Misanthropy or vileness are omnipresent as well. Lone wolf Arioch (Mortuus) doubtlessly holds many aces up his sleeve and he loves to play with the audience.
For example, "Naught but Death" tries to fool the listener with a short rock riff at the beginning, but the agonized screams, the levelling guitar lines and the sinister mid-tempo rhythm transform the song into the little brother of Marduk's "The Blond Beast". That's no big deal, somewhere I have read that the entire album sounds like Marduk 2.0, and this is rather a big compliment than a criticism. Among other things, it indicates the singularity of Arioch's / Mortuus' voice, his firm grasp on the aesthetics of black metal and it says a lot about his authenticity.
"Cockatrice" shows different facets as well. Surreal sounding high-speed guitars characterize the beginning, a genre-typical part follows afterwards, but don't thank that now everything goes on as usual. A keyboard sets in and gives the number another direction. It almost sounds like an ambient experiment of Varg Vikernes (but don't worry; while Varg never comes to an end, the here integrated calm part is pretty short). Indeed, there are some surprising twists and turns on this album. "Within the Without" offers frantic blast beats and extremely violent leads, but the inferno is abruptly yet fittingly interrupted by a sinister break with some church bells in the background. However, many sections of Hekatomb emit an infernal aroma and further surprising elements show up, for example the voice of a little boy who fights with the merciless noise of the guitars. I don't want to scream "innovative idea", nevertheless, it is at least an unusual detail - and it works.
Both production and artwork underline the evil appeal of the music. The mix leaves enough room for the dictatorial voice of Arioch. He takes care of each and every word of the lyrics. Each syllable is full of emotions like scorn, hate and damnation. Of course, the raging, intensive and restless guitars shape songs like the brutal "Shedding Skin", but the vocals have an equal influence on the final outcome. And this outcome tells its own tale, because it shows that Marduk 2.0 sounds as strong as the original Marduk - and all songs have their own individuality, just cast an eye on the ecclesiastical background choirs in "Metamorphosis". This pretty good number is definitely not among my personal highlights, but it scores with this identity creating element, while the following "Hosanna" could be an extremely strong leftover of "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (without Attila's vocals, of course). But don't take the last statement too seriously, Hekatomb has nothing in common with a collection of outtakes. The opposite is true. It constitutes another fascinating document of pure black metal and every supporter of the sub-genre is invited to join its inferno.
Rating: 9 out of 102.48k