Finally, the weekend is upon us. What better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of "Funeral Doom Friday". For those who are new to this column; each week features a new or classic album from the realm of extreme doom. Much of funeral/death doom's might comes from an oppressive emotional weight and the use of death or black metal motifs (played at a trudging pace, of course.) Pioneers like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Esoteric have mastered this blend of dirge and destruction. For 25 years, they have methodically built compositions that stretch for dozens of minutes all while keeping fans enthralled. Time has elapsed since the days of Thergothon and much like the world around us, the genre has evolved. Today's modern bands contort the very construct of the genre, breeding darkly refreshing new work. Their work thankfully gives this column plenty of material to share.
The multi-national effort of Aphonic Threnody makes an appearance this week. Since 2012, the band has conjured a melancholic blend of funeral and death doom, even with the members spread across the globe. Aphonic Threnody has pins in the UK, Italy, and Chile on their map. 20 or 30 years ago something like this may not have been possible for a metal band. Advances in file sharing and global communication thankfully make something like this band possible. They not only conquer these geographical constraints but succeed in a manner that makes a riveting display of funeral and death doom.
A quintet at the time, Aphonic Threnody's most recent album, Of Loss and Grief, explores many stirring tropes of doom. Over six songs, the international band rips your heart out with poignant and diverse compositions. Subtle homages to My Dying Bride and Mournful Congregation emerge, the opening "Despondency" certainly makes that clear Much of this tone carries throughout the first half of the record. Personally, it all seems to build to Of Loss and Grief's fourth track, "Lies." The nearly 20-minute track is the album's evocative centerpiece. A primarily acoustic piece, it taps into an emotional center that thunderous death-doom can sometimes fail to reach. Of course, Aphonic Threnody marries this acoustic dirge—accentuated by somber piano keys—to towering sections of guitar riffs. It is at its best on this track in particular.
Other moments stand out on this record as well. A lot of these moments come from numerous guest appearances throughout the record. For instance, Mournful Congregation's Justin Hartwig appears in "Lies" and the closer "A Thousand Years Sleep" as well. Soph Day (Alunah) brings her angelic voice to "All I've Loved," Frédéric Patte-Brasseur (Ataraxie, Funeralium) brings a searing solo to "Life Stabbed Me Once Again; these are a few of the momentary inclusions that diversify Of Loss and Grief. They, alongside the work of the band members themselves, make this record an entertaining listen. There's a lot to unpackage in Aphonic Threnody's latest record. Certainly, my words do not give it the full justice. My advice is to take 75 minutes and immerse yourself in the international act's music.
Of Loss and Grief came out in the late fall of last year. Listen to it on Bandcamp now. Copies of the album are also available from the band's page. Follow Aphonic Threnody on Facebook as well.