This first appeared way back when on Madeloud.

The maybe not-so-secret truth about a lot of evil black metal is that it’s not really all that evil. Genuinely disaffected Scandinavian losers burning churches and shooting each other have more or less given way to multi-national art school kids happily orchestrating noisy ambience on their hard drives.

Don’t get me wrong; I generally like the hipster music better, and not just because, atheist though I am I don’t really approve of burning churches. And, you know, some of my best friends went to art school. Perhaps Typhos and Necromorbus of Funeral Mist also attended, for all I know. On the one hand, I could absolutely believe that they did…and yet, even when it seems most like they must have ponied up some tuition at some point, they still sound completely feral.. “White Stone” encapsulates the dichotomy; built around a scraping guitar noise like granite being dragged across granite, it’s heavy in a Melvins-heavy way that really takes some thought and arrangement. And yet, there’s none of the Melvins’ brutal, indie wit here; on the contrary, if there’s a brain in this track, it seems entirely focused on dragging the leaden blasphemies from the singer’s bleeding throat.

Take any twelve black metal albums, put them together, and “White Stone” would be the weirdest track on any of them. On Maranatha, though, its not even the oddest song. That would probably be “Blessed Curse”. For twelve minutes, a dark-robed preacher intermittently declaims ominous verses; the Funeral Mist duo intermittently howl; the music surges and squawls…and the drums lock into a march that keeps threatening to shift just a hair into something syncopated and danceable, presuming you could dance while being crushed beneath a gutted Leviathan. Not much less bizarre is “Jesus Saves!”, which starts out in more traditional full ranting blackened death mode, all racing drum machines and raw voiced shrieks set against a pummeling cathedral of grandiose bleakness. And then, you get five and a half minutes in….and suddenly you’re listening to a repetitive, space grunge guitar figure. It’s as if Darkthrone suddenly got mugged by Sonic Youth…or maybe drank some foul brew and transformed itself into Sonic Youth in order to lull you into a false sense of security. Thurston Moore might create a performance piece about burning a church, but he wouldn’t actually do it, right?

The remaining tracks are all less startling, entrails-on-the-sleeve deathy blackness, though the band’s sense of structure and invention ( the bizarre asthmatic inhalation which opens “Living Temples”; the classical processional which closes “Anti-flesh Nimbus”) never deserts them completely. In a way, the fact that some of the tracks seem closer to the earnest mettalisms of Watain than to the borderline-rock of Nachtmystium only makes Funeral Mist more mysterious. Usually you can tell instantly whether a band is insane or evil, but Funeral Mist seems to be both by turns — either too canny or too fiendish to admit that there’s a difference.

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