I guess the Greek black metal scene will always hold a special place in my catalogued heart simply because bands like Necromantia and Varathron were some of the first I came across in my faltering first steps into black metal – yes Rotting Christ came a lot later sadly. But this isn’t the early 90s, this is nearly 2020.
Until I hit play on funeral Storm. ‘Invocation Of The Black Dragon’ with its slow keyboards pulled me right back to those early days; A strong waft of Necromantia with a sprinkling of Akhenaton before ‘Ego Sum Filius Draconis’ overtakes it. Funeral Storm are Greek, consisting at the moment of Wampyrion and Arcania of Karkinos amongst others, and Stefan Necroabyssious of Varathron and their roots in the past are, musically strong. This is elegant, classy and keyboard heavy black metal, symphonic in a style that rarely gets a look in these days. Listening to the insistent keyboards almost drowns the riffs until a lead break cuts through is nostalgic for me but the production is very modern and so this has a firm grasp on now too which is excellent.
I guess this is a little Janus like, looking both backwards and forwards at the same time but when we get the keyboard interludes like ‘Wandering Through The Abyss’ it does feel all oh so past and familiar. A vein from those older days with the spirit of Goblin hovering over it all. Not that there is anything wrong there per se as this is, as noted very, very classy music. When you get the full colour in a track like ‘Necromancer’ (strangely split into two for no reason I can fathom) which pushes the riffs a little more and we get the full effect of the superb vocals that add an almost operatic feel to the growl and the snarl you begin to wonder why we hear so little like this these days. There is a gothic element here too, a grandiose feel to every song, in an authoritative voice. ‘Funeral Storm’ too has a cinematic quality, perfectly conjuring up the misery and fear of such a thing with the production spot in for the thunderous rumble and outburst of violent lightening. And those vocals…
It has taken me weeks to get into this album. I have no idea why as it is not difficult music, but it was initially a struggle so bear with it. Fine the odd track like ‘Origins Of Utter Evil’ with the keyboards ripped right back do little for me but elsewhere I am just swept up by the majesty of this work. Odd.
So, what can we say? Well I doubt there will be many albums with half as much imperious class as Funeral Storm this year. No I can’t shake the nostalgia but it is so much more than that and so vibrant and enveloping when it works, and it does for most of the time, you are thoroughly transported.
Richly deserving of your attention, in the end.