‘This Island, Our Funeral’ is the second album by the Scottish quartet comprising of Tony Dunn (Vocals, Guitar), Scott McLean (Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals), Ben Brown (Bass Guitar) and Steve Scott (Drums).
I’m pretty certain that many of their countrymen should be listening to this album currently, both for its beautiful depictions of the wild northern parts of this island and perhaps for the haunting sorrowful refrains that would befit any funeral, or lack of independence. The opening bars of “Tòrradh” are accompanied by a mournful wailing and as the guitar diminishes the penny whistle becomes the focus point until the distorted guitars kick back in and the all too melodic vocals for a metal band have me wondering whether it’s just the length of their songs that are going to prevent them from becoming pop/rock sensations.
Once “For Life” is in full swing I wonder no longer. It’s because their guitars are able to get far too heavy, even if the vocals are as soothing as warm honey over the battering of drums.
The near acoustic “For Uir” has a brief bridge where the guitars crescendo before they diminish once again to easy strumming under the soaring vocals.
What sound like screamed battle cries for vocals on “Brahan” are quickly replaced by the far easier on the ear singing supplemented by waxing and waning guitars with the drums maintaining a lumbering tempo to maintain the oppressive ambience running as an undercurrent through the song.
I’m not terribly certain what I’m meant to make of “-” other than it being a brief pause in proceedings, unless it’s at a frequency I can no longer hear, before embarking on the epic “I Shall Build Mountains” where there are paths with no resistance that are easily sauntered along, but also far more treacherous precipices that require the rumbling bass as motivation to keep climbing all the while reminding you of what you’ll see once you reach the summit.
The 12 minute final track “Sanctuary” has Tony’s voice ringing sweetly in your ears over the strong but gently played guitar, followed by Scott’s keyboard tinkling when he is silent. The long drawn out guitar notes are superseded by thumping bass notes and occasionally dinged cymbal before they all come together over a lightly pounded drum beat and fade off into the distance.
Sometimes it’s really nice to sit back and just let pleasant music wash over you and leave you feeling soothed and re-energised. This album certainly ticks all those boxes for me. There are slow morose bits, but for some reason they are more reminiscent of grey foggy mornings than death and drudgery for me, but the key is definitely the vocals, as they have a whimsical allegro quality to them, no matter the musical accompaniment.
(8/10 Marco Gaminara)