Can genres ever really be reborn? I certainly believe so, after all I am a firm believer that genres never really die, there will always be someone out there drawing at least a small influence from a whole plethora of genres. I’m sure much to my disgust there are still a great helping of Nu Metal bands lurking within the underground. Equally putting my theory into practice, Brutal Death Metal seemed to have some downtime a few years back but has now sprung to a massive popularity resulting in many arguments of true Slam and so forth, all very humorous if you enjoy both sides of the style as I do.

Today however we are not here to talk about the rebirths in the Death Metal world, but rather the ever-changing face of Black Metal. To do that we look to New York’s own one man outfit Funereal Presence. Headed up by the suitably kvlt named Bestial Devotion, Funereal Presence have seen a steady incline in their work. Having formed in 2007 the band went on to release a debut EP in 2011, which was later followed in 2014 by the debut full length The Archer Takes Aim. Now under the reliable label Sepulchral Voice Records in 2019 Funereal Presence come to spread more Blackened torment through Achatius.

Let’s start by stating that this album is very all encompassing, big yet at the same time small. By which I mean it is music that sounds large but is probably better suited in a live setting to a small venue. I guess in a way you could say that the album is evoking a certain theatrical intimacy in it’s sound. The whole album consists of only four lengthy tracks, but each and every one of them is packed with flare. There are dashes of the Symphonic and big Melodic Black Metal sections also, the later of which often sits high in the mix sounding out of place yet somehow connected, ethereal and delicate. It is these melodious guitar passages that I really feel breath life into this release.

At it’s heart Achatius is very much a Black Metal record, rasped vocals, fast scratching guitars and feral drumming. Yet there is something very special, take Wherein Seven Celestial Beasts Are Revealed To Him for example, it’s a pure unadulterated Black Metal track, yet the chimes of bells, melodic passages and overall progression of the song offer up an Experimental, devious edge that put the band leagues above their peers. To be quite frank this release is a total journey, not a painful trudge thorough frost bitten kingdoms but rather an existential, out of body dream sequence that you just don’t want to end. Picture a spiritual realm of sleep from which you do not wish to awake, your body is lifeless but your mind is awakened, that is Funereal Presence.

This year is already shaping up to be a year for Black Metal, most releases that have garnered my attention thus far have stemmed from this genre in some way, shape or form. Achatius may however be the pick of the bunch for me, quite frankly this is faultless, and so ahead of its time when you take the rebirth of Black Metal into consideration. Funereal Presence take traditional Black Metal ideas and reconfigure them into a beautiful realm devoid of the sufferings of human life, truly inspirational and without fault, my praise for this album is unending. This will be sure to be in my listening pool for many months, if you like Black Metal you won’t want to miss out on this.

(9/10 George Caley)