The ransom of the distended soul, a black knife at the throat of its savior.Funeral Harvest formed as a trio in 2016, generally lead by Italian guitarist/vocalist Lord Nathas alongside a number of Trondheim-area black metal musicians, that original configuration would soon produce a fairly straightforward rehearsal (‘Bunker Ritual Rehearsal‘, 2017) in introduction of intent, a recording of moderate value with some strong Norwegian black metal ideals already clear in place. Some of it felt slightly improvised or still very much in formative stages of riff placement and ritualistic cadence but they’d sorted most of that out when their first official single (‘Ostende Nobis, Domine Sathanas, Potentiam Tuam.‘, 2019) hit, and it came with an interesting aesthetic though not yet the full face they’d put forth just yet. A memorable if not still formative self-titled mLP (‘Funeral Harvest‘, 2020) followed, which I’d reviewed upon release having been generally impressed with their eerie, halfway there sense of movement. At the time I’d suggested the riffs and rhythmic map were “erratic and responsive, [manifesting] black metal with the feeling of physicality rather than notable technique.” Before suggesting there were hints of Katharsis, One Tail, One Head and with some tangential likeness to the first LP from Ultra Silvam. An alright generalization but I’m not sure I’d emphasized the more deliberate ritual of the experience enough at the time. In the interim they’ve added Beyond Man lead guitarist/keyboardist E. to the fold, picked up the pace, and crafted an appreciably haunting half hour stream of nox on this debut LP.

Redemptio‘ retains the compositional personae built over the last six years but only a thin layer of it, offering a husk of their previous self for a brief moment before performatively shattering through within the first few moments of brief album opener “Opus Cælestis”. Within the glorified harass of their debut LP Funeral Harvest have effectively given violent life to what was previously a series of meditative (or, tentative) misfires, now barreling away for the bulk of this ~31 minute record’s runtime with an inspired, densely set string of ideas in brilliant feature of hypnotic atmosphere and extreme aggression twine’d. The greater cadence of each side is generally equal in pair, wherein the band reveals some manner of brutal action up front, pure menace from a place of power, as thoughtfully subversive textures and riffs trickle down from these moments in the remainder of each side. Though it is not a long or particularly immersive session to start the impact of this debut is nonetheless bludgeoning, effective to say the least.

“Fire Sermon” snakes forth its core rhythmic motion in somewhat typical fashion per Funeral Harvest, a mid-paced guitar progression which gives the drummer a squared-off target to punish, eventually blasting past that point as the rhythm section reinforces the song’s easy sway between riff, rupture and refrain. These straightforward, short yet no less impressive pieces make up the bulk of the nine songs on the running order though we get a few masterful sidebars along the way. “Principum et Finis” would consistently catch my ear in this sense as it presents a martial yet arabesque riff and subsequent melodic arc which develops before shouted and spoken vocal exclamations begin to characterize the song and provide the first hint that this isn’t a band to shy from the arcane and outrageous. The transitory elegance of “Soli Ego Gloria” helps to compound this newly revealed outsized personality though it is merely a transitional, largely instrumental piece we get a sense of sophisticated irreligious tonality which infests the whole of the record, the barbarian philosopher stance we likewise found in Beyond Man among other related projects.

“Womb of Snakes” is, at least for my own taste, the proverbial bittersweet spot on the full listen wherein beside its carrion hollowed bass guitar tone and cold-striking battery we get this thesis of thinking man’s barbarism (see also: Darvaza), a calculated yet brutish attack that simply whips away at its easier prey with bloodied gusto. Of course the final couple of songs on the record are its peak value and major motivation for spinning through several listens at once, but I’d found the preamble of “Womb of Snakes” favorably characteristic. At the precipice of Funeral Harvest‘s gnarling fingers and killing urgency “The Crimson Night Tide” pushes deeper into the forest of simple yet evocative black metal riffcraft with some of the more subtle layers of vocalizations available in tow before “Sorath” provides the grand finale, the blast out of mind to ultimately convince. The unsure or unimpressed listener would rightfully press immediately towards this final piece and allow its ominous, obsessed pulse to wash over. I’d found it enough of a fixation to find myself re-listening to the album without a second thought for three or four times in a row, often becoming somewhat lost to start but warming to the flattened, aggressive push of the whole thing in immerse.

A dissolving wave which arrives with great destructive power and leaves a lingering bitterness as it lands in place ‘Redemptio‘ at once calculated in presentation yet uncaring what victims it bloodies with its brutal manifestations. There is some manner of grace to some of its core rhythms yet the drum production is set upon cracked concrete, cold and flat yet stable enough beneath otherwise buoyant bass guitar tones and carbonized, dissolving guitar distortion. It does not produce the absolute levitation intended to start yet when given due congress Funeral Harvest make their case for this new found aggression beyond ritualistic beginnings. It is not only an improvement from my perspective but a thrillingly dark and succinct stab, a visceral hit which delights in whatever it might’ve pierced, licking the blade in the dark afterwards. For a debut album it is the exact right length, a not at all demanding introduction to an effectively dark and beautifully curated entity. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Signal Rex
RELEASE DATE:October 31st, 2022

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