With titles like the above it would be a fairly safe bet that we would be in funeral doom territory with this Belgian group, and indeed that is the case. Four tracks and around forty five minutes: Ocean, Mountain, A Forest, Desert. A journey indeed. And ‘Ocean’ starts the journey in very much classic funeral doom style; an expansive keyboard sound, a ponderous riff and repeated but minimal melody line. Choral style female vocals, gruff male death vocals and a quieter midsection with piano. It is very classical in style and very classy too. Nicely pitched and a gentle easing into the album and sound. It kind of harkens back a little to things like later Unholy or Until Death Overtakes Me but with a more fluid approach, rather than the sheer power of Skepticism. A little of a less restless Ahab maybe.
‘Mountain’ continues on this way, with little surprise. Fading Bliss do sound so much like a real band rather than a one person project, which gives them a strength you might not otherwise get. The guitars have a nice edge to them, no overly slick production killing them and the drumming is excellent. I also have to say that the choral vocals work well too, they have a strength and an emotional flavour that is often lacking. Yes, all very nice.
Third track is ‘A Forest’. It’s what made me pluck this from the review pile if I’m honest. It is the Cure song. Now I actually have virtually no time for The Cure, except for this song and it’s insistent, snaking bass line and sense of loss. I mean it sounds like the perfect one to be covered by a funeral doom band. At first it seems I’m right too; the slower down but very familiar melody line surrounding us with a misty, bleak sense of confusion. Somewhere though I get pulled out of the forest. Stretching the length to over ten minutes seems to have lost some of the character of the original and I have to say the clearer diction in the death vocals doesn’t work for me. The fever dream nature is diluted too far and it only returns when that melody line does. It’s not awful, I just think the arrangement needs more work.
‘Desert’ closes with a much better sound, and probably the best song. There is a neat, hazy, dreamlike quality, which ironically is what ‘A Forest’ lacks for me. It has a meandering flow, a little delicacy that the riff orientated parts roll over like a mirage being disturbed. It has a sense of distance too and solitude. A lovely end.
Not bad for a sophomore album, not bad at all. If you haven’t had your funeral doom fix in a while and like later Ahab with give line in choral sounds give it a go. Very classy, with a sure touch, Fading Bliss will take you on a thoughtful journey.