FUNERAL CHASM – Omniversal Existence (2021)REVIEW

I stand beneath the mystic moon. / An opiate vapor, dewy, dim, / Exhales from out her golden rim, / And softly dripping, drop by drop, / Upon the quiet mountain top, / Steals drowsily and musically / Into the universal valley. / The rosemary nods upon the grave; / The lily lolls upon the wave; / Wrapping the fog about its breast, / The ruin moulders into rest;” Edgar Allen Poe, The Sleeper

Coping with the side effects of perpetual insomnia via the naturally cooperative therapeutic applications of art, seclusion, and psilocybe incited ego-death is not only necessary palliative care for Danish extreme doom metal musician Danny Woe, — whom is best known for his station in (now defunct) Woebegone Obscured and as the current drummer for Altar of Oblivion, this ritual of self-medication and introspection shapes the man and in turn his art into daringly expressive forms. Formed in 2020 as a duo of long-standing friendship between Woe and guitarist Morten ‘Sjaelepest’ Lund, Funeral Chasm emit an emotionally driven soar of sonorous, funeral-paced epic doom metal on their debut full-length, ‘Omniversal Existence‘, which rings of earnest suffering, an aching restlessness that must shake itself back into reality as the visions repeatedly, gloriously intensify. Certain to touch those whose minds warp and wobble within despairing skulls, these eight pieces offer more than the obviate cathartic watery vignettes unto the mind of the afflicted but, a finest example of adversity being splayed open and used as a stoical palette to paint deeper, more personal works with.

Though the two musicians I’ve mentioned here have been bandmates for several years in Woe‘s pagan black metal act Above Ravens, the advent of Funeral Chasm is presented as more of a spontaneous generation where a period of coping became art and the result soon arrived in hand as their first demo ‘I‘ (2020). This was not a too-surprising sort of release from the artist, of course we can draw a somewhat linear timeline here and suppose it was inevitable that the impressive funeral doom metal side of Woe as an artist -would- continue beyond the end of Woebegone Obscured in 2019. With that said, it is worth pointing directly to the clean vocal performance that guided “This Path Leads to Anxiety” on that demo for a sort of precursor to the style that is most prevalent on ‘Omniversal Existence’. We aren’t talking about just lovely Scandinavian crooning but a man belting it out and exercising a strong range, both in terms of timbre and moody expression. Extreme epic doom metal? Epic funeral doom metal? Yes, somewhere in the thicket of all of those ideas was a strong idea that needed just a bit more coaxing and well, the most impressive aspect of ‘Omniversal Existence’ is that they’ve gone full blast and without fear, embracing not only the sorrowful epic doom metal cadence of this core idea but expanded upon it with a bit of masterful touch, stretching Woe‘s vocal directive into what we should consider the main driver for the full listen. If you’re about to walk into the Funeral Chasm experience blind the one expectation I would haunt you with is that this is more a “gothic” metal record than anything else and yes, with a huge dose of morbid death/doom psychedelia very much included.

Naming gothic rock, avant-black, and funeral doom artists as key influences posits an impressive thread beyond structural sub-genre feats, arriving upon a pliant, opiatic mood reserved for only the most distraught glow which nary an introvert would pass up and that same specific ear will be drawn to and best rewarded by ‘Omniversal Existence’. The third piece on the album “Mesmerizing Clarity” ultimately speaks for the whole in a profound manner, luminous keys and a guitar sound that may as well be a rendering of the ocean itself give way to a deeper roar which links the cold gothic metal affect of Thergothon to the inspired generations beyond, yet the personal touches come from the enriching presence of Woe‘s vocal as he alternates between eccentrically delivered clean singing and deeper death metal vocals, none of it over-practiced or impossibly clean. As a performer the fellow focuses so intently on his presentation and various tonal shifts that it begins to sound like several vocalists, this is particularly striking from ~5:00 as the wringing of the death chord ends, rolls into a gothic rock sized spoken moment at ~5:11 and directly into what I’d consider the “main” voice of Funeral Chasm, the impassioned vibrato which Woe uses to great effect throughout at ~5:24 minutes. However you’d define sub-genre this sort of presentation of skill is rare in such an “open” handed approach wherein the personal lyrics, derived from psychedelic trips during states of spiraling despair, cannot help but be delivered as if being relived. This isn’t all there is to ‘Omniversal Existence’ but it is what will stick with most ‘experienced’ extreme doom metal listeners after just a few listens — we are set inside a moment of surrealistic ebb, away from torment, and a chance to capture an artist processing emotion in such a way is absolutely valuable… and perhaps too intensely personal for some.

At ~55 minutes, presented as a nakedly personal yet beautifully psychedelic and poetic extreme doom metal album there are of course moments that are free to go delightfully over the top, the apex of “Sunrise Vertigo” with its helium howl being followed directly by the hall-resonant groaning of “The Skeleton Secret” was, for me, just a bit much upon the first few listens. Every day funeral doom metal gloomers won’t bat an eye but I’d felt some of those transitions needed a bit more meditation or, space to finish resonating. Lund‘s guitar work most often offers this space between with various effects-drunken washes and cleaner, glassier tones that hold some solid momentum without interrupting the often wildly exploding vocal performances (again, “The Skeleton Secret”) and perhaps we could see a bit of later Ahab in the larger experience but eh, only during the heaviest moments. That the mood is well-matched and amplified between the two artists is no small achievement. So, as we wheel around to making some manner of judgement upon such a personal work it boils down to a recommendation of an extreme niche made to a broader audience. It’ll potentially serve a too nakedly emotional and heart-clenching feat for a lot of escapist epic heavy/doom metal fandom who may otherwise enjoy the strong doom metal appeal of the arrangements; Otherwise Funeral Chasm are perhaps perfectly obscure and frighteningly heavy for most gothic/melodic doom metal fans, and the absolute right fit for the funeral doom metal fanatic who seeks the outlier rather than the molded form. From my own experience the things that are “too much” to take in at once are often the most enriching and in this sense I’d been well-served by spending an extended amount of time pouring over the details and the greater resonances of ‘Omniversal Existence’. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Omniversal Existence
LABEL(S):Aesthetic Death
RELEASE DATE:July 2nd, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Gothic/Epic Doom Metal,
Funeral Doom Metal

Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.