Review by Felix on January 6, 2024.
Pizza Margherita is an internationally well known meal, isn’t it? Millions of pizza bakers offer it more or less worldwide. If you have good luck, it tastes wonderful and fills you up. But sometimes it just tastes wonderful or it makes you feel full. Worst case: it is a pappy, small disc which offends the palate and leaves you hungry. In this (admittedly unofficial) Margherita ranking, the new work of Funeral Winds does not deliver too little, but its taste could be better.
Hellchrist Xul, the man who runs Funeral Winds, cannot be blamed for laziness or a lack of stamina. The album follows hot on the heels of Stigmata Mali (February 2023) and the project has existed since 1991. 333 is not bad, it fills your living room with typical, generic black metal, but it leaves space for optimization in many respects. No single component sucks completely, but let’s take the vocals for example. The lonely misanthrope from the Netherlands whispers his evil wisdom without changing the pitch only a single time. No fervent screams, no grim nagging, no cries that reflect insanity or despair disturb the monotonous approach. That’s okay and somehow not okay at the same time. Xul wastes a big portion of his potential, I guess. And the guitar work? Well, I have to go a little further for that.
In my homeland, people say that the longer dog and master are together, the more they look alike. I do not know whether or not Xul has a dog (and I really have no clue whether he or the dog, if he has one, like Margherita), but I don’t think so. He presents a comparable phenomenon. His guitar work and his vocals resemble each other in an amazing manner. Stoic, mostly not very dynamic, pretty uniform – this is how his guitar sounds here. The quite dull, somewhat flat production reinforces the deficiencies of guitar and vocals. All these details do not make the album overly interesting. Instead, many songs crawl along at mid-tempo and even if our friend accelerates velocity ('Birthed By Pure Malevolence'), the mix prevents a high degree of dynamic.
Now I hear you asking: and atmosphere? What about the atmosphere, a very important ingredient for a black metal album? Here we have the next problem. 333 does not lack a basic grimness, but great atmospheric parts do not show up. Now you could say that this is due to the lack of keyboards, but that would perhaps be too simple. Perhaps our colleague Xul should simply have worked a little more intensively on the compositions. Either way, some tracks are able to catch my full attention, especially the opener and, after its meaningless intro, the closer. On the other side we find tracks like 'Cast The Gauntlet Of Doom'. The song demonstrates impressively that four minutes can become a very long time. At the end, I must say that Xul has already released stronger works. 333 is no disappointment, but it also does not enrich Funeral Wind’s discography. It comes as a supplement, no more, no less.
Rating: 6.8 out of 10241