Review Summary: Old Funeral managed to finish enough recordings to tie together one final release, The Older Ones, which is their personal testament to the music of Norway.
Old Funeral were a four-piece death metal band from Norway that had been formed in 1988. They had a short and oddly offset career that ended when the band formally dissolved in 1992. Within the short period of time that they were active they had released two demos, two compilations, an EP, and a live album. Their name received heavy criticism while they were still a band and even to this day is mocked for its absurdity and grammatical inaccuracy. However, Varg Vikernes (Burzum/ex. Mayhem) who played guitar for the band in 1990 explains the name’s significance most historically.
"You might have noticed the silly name: Old Funeral. In their defense I must say that I think they were originally called just Funeral. Then they found out that another band was called Funeral too, but they had used that name before the other Funeral band, so they changed it to Old Funeral. They were in other words "the old Funeral", and not Old Funeral, so it is not as stupid as it first seems."
Some other musicians that were part of Old Funeral that were also famous to the black metal scene which had risen from Norway in the late 80’s and early 90’s were Harald Nævdal (Immortal/Demonaz/ex. Amputation), and Olve Eikemo (Immortal/I/ex. Amputation/ex. Det Hedenske Folk). Strangely the band’s music is, to this day, still widely unheard of in the metal community even though it is known to have played a very significant role in the development of the contemporary metal pseudo-subgenre known as ‘Blackened Death Metal’. Their discography is hailed as a compendium to this movement because of the extremely distinctive differences between The Older Ones
and all of their prior works.
Historically Old Funeral went through a major transition that largely influenced their last handful of demo releases before their disbandment. Their first two demos The Fart That Should Not Be
, and Abduction of Limbs
, as well as their EP Devoured Carcass
and live album Grim Reaping Norway
were all death metal. Some critics and musicologists argue that after these releases they completely shifted sounds and opted for a more ‘black metal’ stylistic approach. In a lot of ways this claim is evident on their compilation The Older Ones
which is a collection of all of their final recorded demos and re-recorded demos prior to their break up. On it, their music is almost unrecognizable because of the vast amount of differences from their past works.
The compilation is as an ‘after’ for the style that had been prominent since Old Funeral’s inception. The band, after dropping their initial sound, transitioned to the music most indigenous to their geographical location. Whether this was because of preference or because they wanted to appeal to the current scene, they managed to finish enough recordings to tie together one final release, The Older Ones
, which is their personal testament to the music of Norway. Although altered, their musical input remained qualitative; there are no ‘bad’ tracks on the compilation. Each song is moderate in technique and attention-grabbing in execution with little to no moments in which the content is depreciative.
However, while each track may be musically qualitative the amount of care put into recording them was poor and left the songs sounding undesirably harsh. For those who are not used to listening to songs that are unedited and plagued with white noise which may pose a considerable listening problem. Fortunately, for those familiar to the praxis of artists from Norway during this particular era, the lack of quality will come as no surprise considering that most of the music from that period in time was characterized by this prominent decision. Thus a bit of auditory adaption is required to be able to listen to The Older Ones
before it may truly be enjoyed.
Individually each member of Old Funeral deserves recognition for their contributions, however Paddles made the most striking one of them all. His change in vocal styles was a bold decision and it is surprising that he was able to master the harsh black metal screams so quickly after performing gutturals for the last three years of the bands career. His attention is not noticeably divided as he provided the same amount of care into drumming as he did into his vocals. In fact, one who is unaware that Paddle was in charge of both drums and vocals may, upon first listening to an Old Funeral song, think that it was two completely different band members performing each task.
Finally, although it was difficult to make out at times, the instrumentation on the album is excellent. The guitars blend nicely into the static in the background and create a raw medley of heavy expressionism between the woodwork of each verse. They are joined in and complimented by the drums while occasionally duelled by intricate fills in the textual foreground to alleviate tensions placed on some of the transitions in each song. Most of the riffs consist of stock chords which are endemic of black metal but contain a lesser degree of coherence and consistency. They cycle between a provision of base and bridging progression throughout each song but encourage an unfortunate prohibition of lead melodies.
Nevertheless, The Older Ones
is an excellent opportunity to expand ones knowledge on the music of Norway during the second wave black metal era. It is a wonderful addition to the collection of any metal historian as a point of reference when claiming the genesis of certain contemporary pseudo-subgenres like ‘Blackened Death Metal’. Although the recording quality leaves a lot to be desired, the music overall is interesting, heavy, and fun to listen to. The only real issue with the album is that the music isn’t at all diversified in that it sounds like all black metal from that period in time. However, it is a quantum leap from their previous style and is still as excellent as many classic albums from the black metal genre (second wave and post-modern). Thus, in light of the minimal criticism posed, The Older Ones
remains an important and enjoyable part of the culture and history of contemporary metal.
Skin and Bone