It is time to celebrate the death of 2012 with the Top 5 Funeral Doom Songs (of all time, perhaps). There is no rhyme or reason to this list, actually. Just five songs that always find their way home during the long cold nights of winter. If it’s not snowing or cold as a medieval cellar where you live, then move!
5. Esoteric – Beneath This Face
The Brits have long been at the business of making mind-altering, highly repetitive (a funeral doom weighting trait, I believe) despondent stuff since the mid ’90s, when they released a 2CD mind-fuck called Epistemological Despondency. And they’ve been on a slow roll since, releasing Paragon of Dissonance last year to much (about 10 people worldwide) acclaim and appreciation. “Beneath This Face” comes off the The Maniacal Vale effort. One word: vocals. Otherwordly menace. A song for Sauron’s funeral, perhaps?
4. Evoken – Descent Into Chaotic Dream
The Americans have been at it far longer than most Finns, which is a feat in and of itself. But Evoken have, it seems, aged gracefully. Regally, in fact. “Descent Into Chaotic Dream” is off Evoken’s Decibel-approved Atra Mors full-length. Part My Dying Bride, Part Monumentum, all Evoken, it’s the kind of song for late nights looking at stars or down at fresh graves. Either way, transcendental!
3. Shape of Despair – In The Mist Part 1
One of the newjack funeral doom outfits to come out of Thergothon, Skepticism and Unholy’s loins, Shape of Despair met with wild applause when they launched Shades of… in 2000. Fronted by funeral doom heir apparent Jarno Salomaa and sided by the ever-amazing Tomi Ullgrén, the Finns went on to produce three full-lengths before going dormant. They’re still active in a Finnish way. Anyway, this song is beautiful. It haunts every second. Like an undead waltz with some HP Lovecraft monster on vocals. Miika “Azhemin” Niemelä would only be on Shades off… sadly. He’s rumored to be living a life of solitude in Northern Finland. Now, that’s the lifestyle!
2. Colosseum – Towards The Infinite
I’m partial to “Saturnine Vastness” off debut Chapter 1: Delirium, but “Towards The Infinite” gets a nod for being the first funeral doom song with an official, label-sanctioned video. Short by Colosseum standards, the song, however, carries the Finnish funeral doom torch, but instead of being sparse and limited in scope, it’s wide open thanks to Juhani Palomäki’s (RIP, bro!) classical compositional touch. That it sounds like a Morbid Angel song (off Covenant, I think) slowed and throwed to near death is truly Finnish icing on the coffin. And again, the vocals. Palomäki abyssal growl is like no other. Full of emotion, hate, despair. Believe!
1. Thergothon – Who Rides The Astral Wings
The point of origin. The dark of darkness. The pit of space. Finns Thergothon (Hall of Famers if they’re to be found, I think) started it all. Well, Skepticism was there, too. But somehow Thergothon’s debut album, Stream from the Heavens, resonated and became a cult classic. An expensive one, too, before the reissues landed. It’s tough to argue which Thergothon track elicits the most funereal response, but “Who Rides The Astral Wings” is only song to repeatedly make feel like Scott Koerber’s basement has a hidden door to impossibly desolate realms. I know it’s there. I just can’t find it. Scott?!