Review Summary: Musically well made, As The Light Does The Shadow merely proves that Funeral need a different vocalist.
In 1995, Funeral released a seminal doom album called Tragedies
, and the album has left Funeral with a position as one of the pioneering funeral doom acts. Looking back on Tragedies
, you can see that Funeral have come a long way. No longer having even a semblance to funeral doom, the band have turned towards a more traditional doom approach to their music; crunchy riffing, heavy on the low-end, and generally at faster tempos than most other doom bands. Furthermore, harsh vocals have completely disappeared, leaving us with a gothic influenced attempt at dreariness. As the Light Does the Shadow
does not differ greatly from the band’s previous effort, 2006’s From These Wounds
; in fact, it really is the same thing, being an album that is rather good instrumentally, but is let down by a genuinely poor and tiresome vocal performance on behalf of vocalist/bassist Frode Forsmo. This is basically the crux of the album; if you can get past the monotonic nature of the vocals, great enjoyment can be had from As the Light Does the Shadow
. Unfortunately, getting past the vocals is no easy task, as they’re in every song (bar one), and are consistently annoying.
The album begins immediately with ‘The Will to Die’, and we’re introduced to the Funeral of now; solid riffing, a tenacious melody, and occasional clean passages, all placed with enough variation to keep this album musically very interesting. Synth effects are used to add texture and provide a greater level of fluidity, and essentially, Funeral do a great job of writing a song. Nevertheless, from the very beginning, the vocals are simply irritating. They’re bearable for a song, maybe two, but before long you’re left wondering whether Forsmo is capable of breaking out of his dreary monotone. There are no alterations in his pitch, and whether it is over heavier music or softer music, his tone remains unmodulated and basically boring. I acknowledge the fact that the band are going for the whole ‘dreary vocals’ feel to the album, but in the end there’s a difference between dreary, solemn vocals, and boring, sucky vocals. To make matters worse, Funeral opted for a guest vocalist on the track ‘In The Fathoms Of Wit And Reason’, namely Rob Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus. The track is probably the best on the record; musically, as with the other tracks, it is fantastic, yet Lowe gives a sense of personality and feeling to the song, something which is lacking on all the others. Hearing such a great performance is no doubt a good thing, but once the track is over and you’re handed back to Forsmo, you’ll be wishing Lowe had never left. In this sense, having a guest vocalist on the album was a bad move, as it just emphasizes the weaknesses of the album.
Perhaps recruiting Lowe as fulltime vocalist is the best thing Funeral can do right now, because they aren’t going to get anywhere with Forsmo. Ultimately, his performance detracts from everything that is good about this album, and this is unfortunate because there is so much potential to be found. If you’re a fan of From These Wounds
(in other words, one of the few people who can derive some enjoyment from Forsmo’s voice), definitely have a look at this. The album is well put together, and although suffers greatly at the hands of their vocalist, I’m still hopeful that they will correct themselves in future.