Review by Fran on February 3, 2022.
Funeral Mist got us used to experimental black metal with unorthodox riffs and brilliant composition skills. Weird choirs in Latin (some of them made by children) slow passages with minimalistic drumming and authentic ritual auras, combined with powerful and ultra-fast blast beat sections. All of these elements combined define Funeral Mist’s black metal brand. After a solemn intro and a couple of atmospheric tracks you hear that weird, atonal riffing; full of downward slides on the fretboard… Mortuus’ trademark. Traditional black metal riffs are also present throughout the whole record, dissonant and repetitive to the point where it gets hypnotic.
Despite the raw nature of his music, with every album he has got better regarding recording and mastering (which I think he does by himself, too) so every instrument can be fully heard anytime and is legible on Deiform. I also like some edition gimmicks done over the vocals, fade outs or stuff like that, blending perfectly with what the song is trying to communicate. I do always prefer organic music but, if the composer and instrumentalist use studio edition as a musical resource more than a mask, it becomes an instrument itself. Another aspect I like about Mortuus is that his addition to Marduk didn’t change his solo project’s sound at all. In fact, you can hear a stronger Funeral Mist influence on Marduk’s “Plague Angel” than any Marduk’s influence on any Funeral Mist record.
Lars B. was invited as a session drummer for this record and his natural skills are notable: merciless double bass drum patterns in the blast beat sections and fast tom fills, the cymbal work is actually pretty simple as the tribal slow-paced passages but that's what Mortuus wanted and they sound pretty cool anyway. Guitars and bass were recorded by Mortuus. The bass lines aren’t as complicated as the riffing and most of the time they just follow the guitars but there are some interesting low-end arrangements on track no. 6, 'Deiform' and track no. 7 'Into The Ashes'. The guitar tone is thin and acidic, the vocals are high-pitched screams, as it normally occurs in black metal but with Mortuus' distinctive accent. Another aspect I really like about this band is the depth of its lyrics. Sometimes existentialist, always satanist and iconoclast… they reveal aspects of the self you might be not aware of. Very enlightening.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10878
Review by Fernando on January 1, 2022.
The individual called Arioch (aka Mortuus) is primarily known as the frontman of Swedish black metal titans Marduk since the mid 2000’s but he’s also known, and extremely well regarded for his solo project Funeral Mist. A name associated with Orthodox black metal, and for good reason, as the project is often considered one of the definitive Swedish underground metal acts alongside names like Svartsyn and Ofermod. In a surprisingly short waiting period (by Funeral Mist standards) Arioch brought forth Deiform, his fourth opus, and what a welcome surprise it turned out to be.
Funeral Mist is a difficult band to properly convey in words musically speaking, due to both the intensely inaccessible qualities of the music as well as the drastic shifts in style and execution each album has had. The only consistent through line of each album is Arioch’s vocals, which even after almost two decades touring and recording with Marduk, haven't lost an iota of utter depraved force and lunacy. On this record, his unhinged growls reach new heights of intensity, and even dynamics. He seamlessly switches back and forth between growled blasphemous sermons, to dry howling diatribes that will make your throat hurt by proxy, as well as his now trademarked raspy growls.
In regard to the actual instrumentation and songwriting, this is yet another shift for Funeral Mist. The album is surprisingly melodic and, dare I say, epic, in terms of its atmosphere, which is also another surprising aspect. It's very atmospheric and the vast majority of the songs have a sprawling and engrossing quality which is boosted by the excellent production in a way that previous records didn’t fully display. It isn’t to say Funeral Mist has never been atmospheric, it has, but the atmospheres in Salvation and Maranatha were one of dread inducing terror for the former, and of ritualistic madness for the latter. Hekatomb was much more aggressive and with a subdued atmosphere. Deiform has a contemplative and morose atmosphere that’s equivalent to a funeral march, which is further enhanced by the tasteful use of samples in the form of choirs, knells and assorted sounds that evoke the image of an abandoned temple during a storm. That being said, while the atmospherics and melodicism with elements of classic heavy metal, are a major showcase, this album isn’t like Panopticon or Skogen, this is still Funeral Mist. Of course, the atmospheric passages build and lead into pure black metal, with fast and aggressively frenzied tremolo picked riffs, blast beats and pounding bass lines. The aforementioned melodicism and atmospherics are a complement to the music and make it more dynamic overall, while still retaining the core essence of Funeral Mist that Arioch continues refining on his terms.
While Arioch is primarily known for his distinct vocals, Funeral Mist has always been a display of all his talents, and Deiform in particular, is a showcase of all his talents as a musician and songwriter. The songs are very long but the way they’re written and arranged (which include the melodic and atmospheric qualities I already praised) gives them a balanced and consistent pacing that’s also very dynamic as none of the songs follow a pattern or formula, and yet still feel like individual parts of a larger picture. This is where Arioch’s songwriting truly shines. The way he crafted very long songs that are unique, memorable, and sprawling, yet furious and somber without feeling protracted or disjointed, as well as still making shorter songs that are intense and relentless, and it all comes together organically.
A lot of people often complain about how solo black metal projects like Funeral Mist never play live or stopped playing live altogether, but after listening to Deiform, as well as all previous Funeral Mist records in preparation for this new opus, it's abundantly clear that this music isn't meant for the stage, it’s a sonic experience meant to be enjoyed alone. Deiform, while still has some familiar elements of past Funeral Mist work and black metal in general, is unlike anything I’ve heard and its music that can’t feasibly be replicated live, as the experience wouldn’t be on par with what this record offers as a piece of art. To close off, I usually highlight specific songs as the best, but not for this record, because everything is flawless.
Rating: 10 out of 10878
Review by Felix on December 15, 2021.
Since the release of the extremely strong “Victoria” album, Marduk have taken a liking to laziness. This is nefarious and reprehensible, but now at least Mortuus (here: Arioch) provides relief. His new solo work Deiform is full of Mardukian fury. For instance, 'Apokalyptikon' can rejoice: name and content match impressively. Already its slicing guitar at the beginning has nearly the effect of a deadly shot and the following inferno buries every sign of life. But the shortest song of the album is almost one-dimensional compared with other tracks. Just take a look at the direct neighbors of 'Apokalytikon'. 'In Here' is a similar high velocity massacre, but at the end it turns to a primitive ritual, only equipped with simple drumming and rhythmic shouts. The opener 'Twilight Of The Flesh' inspires with an ecclesiastical-metallic intro that perfectly slides into an outburst of hostile ferocity. The drumming is incredible, the guitar lines reflect pure cruelty and the vocals – hey man, do you really ask for the singing? Arioch has nothing left of his ominous charisma, even though the insane velocity forces him to spit out the words as fast as possible.
The Marduk vocalist is a champion in connecting seemingly incompatible elements. The children choir and the metallic brutality of 'Children Of The Urn' go hand in hand and this successful experiment ennobles the already strong, partly melodic (yet always merciless) eruption of violent emotions. (The whole thing reminds me a bit of the little boy who appeared on Hekatomb.) No doubt, most songs are written and arranged with great competence and moreover the material can rely on a powerful, modern production that is not too far away from that of “Victoria”. Arioch takes the audience under pressure from the beginning to the end and this is one component why I fell in love with broad parts of Deiform immediately. Unfortunately, exactly the title track does not keep the flame of total musical ecstasy burning. It’s not only its slow tempo – the entire piece with its partly invoking vocals is pretty lame (and too long). I miss exciting guitar lines or other captivating elements. However, the machine gun drums of the remaining songs are a characterizing feature of the murderously fast full-length and I admit I will never have the physical constitution to play them anywhere near as fast or precise as the multi-instrumentalist.
Surely, Deiform is another remarkable work from Funeral Mist. It does not fully reach the quality level of Hekatomb. As soon as the 'Children Of The Urn' have left the stage, the following songs are not able to beat one of the first four tracks. Nevertheless, 'Hooks Of Hunger' does not suffer from inappropriate clemency, to say the least, and 'Into Ashes' marks a final statement Arioch can be proud of. Despite its length of more than nine minutes, the intensity and tension never break down. All in all, I hope Deiform indicates the level of rage and vehemence of the next Marduk album – then a lot would already be gained.
Rating: 8.2 out of 10878