Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to talk about a doom metal album, not because I don’t like the genre – in fact I should say it’s probably one of my favorite types of metal – but because I haven’t listened to this kind of music for about a decade now. However, a series of events transpired these last few days which managed to remind me of the paradoxical joy I get from mournful, melodramatic tones, and I find myself quite pleased to cover this unexpected, albeit cloudy and tortuous gem.
The key to making amazing doom metal is patience, simplicity and a profound yet primitive sense of theatrics. It’s understandable – it’s a musical genre born out of and meant to inspire doom. Hence the name. The key to listening to amazing doom metal is being a teenager or being able to viscerally remember that stage of one’s life. If this statement sounds patronizing, I apologize, but keep in mind I chose to write about a doom metal album today, so whatever barbs may lay hidden in my words, they are equally directed at myself in this context. I listened to a lot of doom metal in my early teens, when it fit perfectly, and the lack of dramatic sophistication meant I could take it seriously without holding back, and immersing myself in its frozen, crushing, morose mood. Now, I can reconnect to that simple, honest way of reflecting and identifying with a certain type of music, while also enjoying the benefit of detachment – this music actually makes me smile these days – the perspective has changed substantially, and listening to this album has a bitter-sweet air of nostalgia which I really enjoy. A close friend of mine and I share a certain way of getting past depression – we “go deep”, as it were, we try to feed it and dwell on it to the point it seems ridiculous even to us, and it’s then that we break free, because the most effective cure we could find within ourselves is the rousing of our sarcasm. This music embodies that exact attitude as far as I’m concerned – it takes one to that threshold of detachment where one can see the seemingly vast, desolate emotional landscape of depression from above, from safety, from a place of solace.
“Having fun with doom metal day” was also helped greatly by my reading David Sedaris’ “Nuit of the Living Dead”, while listening to this album. It’s a deliriously funny story about a man trying to drown a mouse, for humanitarian reasons, after having repeatedly snapped a trap shut on its spine, purely by accident and with the best of intentions. The superimposition of this twisted little tale with the colossal sonic space created by the Norwegian band Funeral, the majestic, somber atmosphere – it was just perfect, it brought forth an elation I could hardly describe here. It was like hearing the despair and reading the detachment at the same time. Wonderful.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe Funeral condone this kind of interpretative shenanigans. They tackle the rigors of doom metal with statuesque grace and dignity – there’s a lot to be said about an album so effective at capturing the cold squeeze of despair that I need to resort to tricks and mnemonic acrobatics to enjoy the music without becoming prey to the mood it conjures. The layering of voices, the deliberate, patient, implacable rhythms, the synthetic, far-off keyboards and the cutting, dolorous guitars work splendidly together, hitting the mark perfectly. There’s a sad, deep tranquility permeating this music, a serenity only rarely clouded by the occasional stirring of tragic rebellion, providing for exquisite contrast. These songs have the slightly sinister beauty of dessicated leaves floating towards the ground in large, generous sweeps and sudden drops, weaving evanescent patterns through the silent air.
I hope you don’t let the dark demeanor of this music scare you off – it complements the season wonderfully in that delightfully cliche way we need to indulge in sometimes. See you soon!