Review Summary: Funeral doom meets dark ambient. Witty summarys: out of stock.
Funeral doom. The very thought sends a ghastly shiver down my spine not seen since the Hellraiser films terrified my days of a strapping young lad. But unlike Pinhead and his Cenobite goons who only appear when the puzzle box opens, Funeral doom pushes it’s way into the heart of civilization with obnoxious growled vocals, repetitive chord progressions, flat drumming patterns and most chillingly of all is that a single track manages to consume twenty + minutes of my time with the same droning aura that the next track and the track after that will hold in store for me. God help us all. Fortunately, there are moments albeit too brief where an attempt is made to slap on some creativity to a stagnant form of music. And here we are with one of those overachieving bandits of the north Longing For Dawn.
Based in Quebec, Canada, Longing For Dawn have released an unexpected funeral doom pleasure for me in their third full length “Between Elation And Despair“. The characteristics of traditional funeral doom are here. A small handful (4) of songs with ridiculous song lengths (two eclipse the fifteen minute mark while the other two just about round out the ten minute mark equally), a powerful roar not quite as absurd as I was expecting to hear upon first listen, and a suffocating atmosphere that envelops this four track, fifty minute lumbering goliath of a doom metal album. But what makes this band special is the implementation of eerie, dark ambience and icy melodies provided by lead guitar player and electronics expert Frederic Arbour. Having a background in this format of music with two dark ambient projects of his own, Frederic boldly and expressively demonstrates how frigid industrialized electronics can successfully converge with the crushing aggression of funeral doom to form a creative take on generally one dimensional music.
The vocals are provided by Stefan Laroche and I am mildly impressed with his delivery. Still very much a deep and bellowing roar that could wake up Fenrir from miles and miles away, Stefan manages to slide past the corniness and diluted extremity that many of his peers are found guilty of. Anguished yet not self serving. Torturous but not overbearing. Aside from his growling Stefan offers clean vocalizing in the shape and form of spoken word sections that transition perfectly with bellowing synth ambience. The guitar positions are filled in by Frederic Arbour and Simon Carignan who offer more than just simple chugging and underwhelming melodies. The duo create an imperturbable facade of mournful melodies and slothful riff patterns that work hand in hand with the electronics resulting in a dynamic, joint effort. Bass and drumming are the weaker positions on “Between Elation And Despair” carrying a rather miniscule burden on their shoulders. Unlike their cousins in black, death, and power who rely on speed and aggression to set a message, doom sets the pace with a sluggish sense of feeling and power. I can’t complain though, Etienne Lepage and Francois Fortin remain playing at a competent level.
The songwriting of this album remains to be a pretty strong factor in developing positive feelings for this album. The constant shifts between ominous tranquility and sudden bolts of aggression dynamically challenge the listener and succeed in providing a thorough and captivating listening experience. The combination of (melodic) funeral doom and dark ambient isn’t something that I’m quite sure has taken place before so I applaud Longing For Dawn in bringing a new flavor to an unstable sub genre that reigns in mediocrity with it’s few hidden gems peaking out from time to time. Any metal fan well versed in the multitude of sub genres would do themselves some good by checking this out. This is the first funeral doom record that I’ve heard all year and it turned out to be a sleeper of 2009. Funeral Doom for reinstatement 09!