Funeral Diner
The Underdark


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
August 11th, 2005 | 508 replies | 33,577 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


Funeral Diner
The Underdark

Half Moon Bay is a sad town on the Pacific coast on the Peninsula of the Bay Area. Half of the town are rich, affluent, and send their kids to the private schools on the other side of the Crystal Springs Reservoir. The other half are washed out hippies who enjoy surfing. The clash of these two demographics yields an odd group of kids in the town. Rich kids have parties and do drugs, and poor kids have parties and two drugs, all the while never mixing. That's why I was so surprised to hear that an important post-hardcore band, Under a Dying Sun, came from that foggy depressing town. I guess that odd atmosphere and seemingly no possible fan base or scene bred a band that sounded unlike other bands. They took elements of old school emo, post-punk, and odd indie rock to make music that sounded as isolated and gloomy as their nook on the coast.

Now imagine my surprise at reading the San Francisco band Funeral Diner came from Half Moon Bay as well. There's something in that town that spawns bands that are in touch with their own misery. They both have parts that are morose and downplayed, and others that are raging and cacophonous. However, Funeral Diner is a more standard emo band than Under a Dying Sun, who dabbled in multiple genres. By sacrificing the experimentation of a genre tranny, they excel at honing their specific craft. Funeral Diner produces emotional hardcore prolifically and masterfully. I really do mean that. If you go to their [url=http://www.funeraldiner.com]website[/url], you'll notice tons of splits (with Welcome the Plague Year, The Saddest Landscape, etc.), a few EPs, and finally The Underdark their first LP. while previous work had been heterogeneous and scattered, Funeral Diner wrote this album with the intent to produce a fluid monolith of emotional hardcore. Each song blends into the next and the whole CD runs from start to finish with few flaws.

That is, many flaws. Emo as a genre draws beauty from the moments in music when there are mistakes that spawn from emotional outbursts and artistic frustration. There is an amazing amount of expression in every song. With some bands, this overtly cathartic style wears off after a few songs. With the Funeral Diner, they manage to build up to these moments of breakdown with carefully constructed songs. Their first song, "Decline," is essentially a warm-up CD for the rest of the album. It starts with a simple guitar line that reminds me of a Nine Inch Nails or Tool song (something crazy from the 90s). And of course, they build on this idea. The song picks up and plods along until it reaches the "Collapsing." From here the vocals kick in, and the CD erupts, or collapses I guess. To begin an album with a 4-minute song that only is there to set up the rest of the album is either extremely foolish, or clairvoyant. Funeral Diner wrote this whole CD as one fluid piece, and they use whole tracks as individual devices for building or releasing tension. It's a great sensation to be yanked from high to low so masterfully. Unlike the chaotic screamo bands that are popular in the modern scene, Funeral Diner takes their time setting the mood, before they upset it and throw it all over the place. The soft to loud dynamics are stretch over minutes at a time instead of seconds. A great effect.

The technical aspect of the album isn't impressive, but then again, that's not the point. The instruments are interesting. "Interesting" may be a generic word, but it's true. The harmonic interplay is pretty stable and doesn't mess around too much. they dabble in modal melodies, which changes their flavor a little bit, but in general, when listening to this album, experimentation and technicality is not the linchpin of your enjoyment. It's all in the mood. An aid to this "Half Moon Bay" atmosphere is the production. With emo bands, crappy production and vinyl pressing is the norm. Funeral Diner does a little bit more with this, and it pays off. Echo pedals with a slight modulation on the sound works perfectly for those ambient moments, and a mix of clean tone and distortion works perfectly during the intense parts. The distortion distinguishes the high pitched octave melodies on the guitars and the clean tone adds to the meat of the more background guitar. Often though, these two guitar parts are one in the same and are just employing the same octave technique, giving some cool harmonies. Because octave chords can be moved quickly, Funeral Diner often implies a chord over the chorus of a few beats or a measure while throwing in a bunch of decoration on the guitar, which gives a great sense of power through the emotional crescendos of the music. Great choices overall.

This CD is fluid, beautiful, and engaging the whole way through. It's murky and depressing, but also powerful and brisk. A triumph for modern emo only eclipsed by the epic heights of Circle Takes the Square and the progressive styling of Hot Cross. My only fault to this album is that it's almost too much. It's homogeneous and intense to listen to. I've been on a binge recently, so I figured I'd write my review when I high on it, instead of when I'm depressed and watching the fog come in while driving around in Half Moon Bay.



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user ratings (393)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Damrod
Moderator
August 11th 2005



1093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I checked this out, and: I love this. Excellent stuff. I have to give this a few more listens, but so far I really like it.

Good review :thumb:

cbmartinez
August 11th 2005



2525 Comments


Pumpin' out the great reviews.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 11th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ya. Imagine what work can be like for me if writing record reviews is a release. Jesus. ya, Funeral Diner rules. Anybody IM me at DFelon204409 if you wanna sample.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 12th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey, I should mention that I really don't like using the word "catharsis." It's so overused about bands that aren't about catharsis and are more just poppy with occasional screams. These guys are truly about catharsis. And they do it well.

Stain
August 12th 2005



6 Comments


Recommended songs?

Cross Out The Eyes
August 12th 2005



42 Comments


THIS SOUNDS INTRESTING
I WILL CHECK THIS ONE OUT
THANKS FOR THE GOOD REVIEW

Damrod
Moderator
August 12th 2005



1093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[Quote=Stain]Recommended songs?[/Quote]

"Collapsing" was the first song I heard from this, and during the first few seconds it was instant love. I personally would recommend that one, if you like it, chances are very high you'll like the rest of the album as well.

If you have the chance, hear it with the intro "Decline", makes it even better.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 12th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=Cross out the Eyes]THIS SOUNDS INTRESTING
I WILL CHECK THIS ONE OUT
THANKS FOR THE GOOD REVIEW[/quote]

OKAY

Speaking of Thursday I heard "Autobiography of a Nation" on CNN today when they were doing an anti-eBay special edition. The intro was used as ominous background music. It was cool.

Sid
September 14th 2005



2 Comments


Half Moon Bay does have a scene, surprise surprise.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
September 14th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

OOOoooooo. They have nothing better to do out there.

Neurotoxin
September 17th 2005



90 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really love this album.

"It Is Good That We Never Met" is my current favourite track.

Great review DFelon. I agree completely.This Message Edited On 09.17.05

EDIT: Who is this Gunner fellow who gave this .5 stars? I hardly see how that's even the slightest bit accurate.This Message Edited On 09.19.05

DFelon204409
Emeritus
September 20th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That gunner guy was a wanker who went through every one of my reviews and gave them a "no" ranking because I trashed one of his friend's crappy reviews. He hasn't actually heard the album dude.

guitar, bass, sax
December 26th 2005



7 Comments


I just realized that we have a lot of really good bands here.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
December 29th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Truf yo.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
December 29th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh, and in addition.

[img]http://myspace-568.vo.llnwd.net/00380/86/53/380863568_l.jpg[/img]

masada
February 10th 2006



2733 Comments


I listened to some of the songs on their myspace. They didn't seem to really pop out to me, but I guess I could give them a chance in the future.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
February 10th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is particular blends all the songs together well. It's pretty epic and the longer songs are the best and I'm guessing the shorter ones were on their myspace. Just a guess though.

Neurotoxin
February 10th 2006



90 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I must agree, it is a pretty epic album.

DaveToopes
March 27th 2006



10 Comments


Love this album. This is the band that got me into emo.

SantaDuJuan
August 23rd 2006



9 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I really do love Funeral Diner, they make albums you can start form the beginning and don't want to change the song to fit your emotion; I just get that really in touch feeling.


Ah, but really, excellent album.
Their percussionist is insanly good.



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