Funereal Presence- The Archer Takes Aim

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Funereal Presence is the solo project of Negative Plane drummer Bestial Devotion, and the group’s new album The Archer Takes Aim may be one of the most surprising releases I’ve come across so far this year. This effort is the follow up to 2011’s self-titled EP, and finds Bestial Devotion expanding upon just about every element and pushing it into completely new territory. Comprised of four tracks, the emphasis here is on sprawling arrangements that maintain the harsher layers of black metal while incorporating a good deal of experimentation. Although there are some sections sure to remind listeners of Negative Plane’s most recent album, Funereal Presence is able to create a style of its own and draw listeners into its twists and turns.

Three of the four tracks on this album are over twelve minutes in length, and while there are similar elements throughout each of them the instrumental work is able to diverge and explore different paths. Although there are some bursts of cleaner guitar riffs that have a slightly similar sound to Negative Plane, for the most part the sound here sticks with more traditional black metal as its base and builds around that. Bestial Devotion is able to reach peak levels of atmosphere and tension more than once during each song, often building up to a trancelike state with harsher edged instrumental work that twists and turns around your eardrums. The songs are able to achieve this with a lot of sudden stops and transitions over to more experimental riffs before diving right back into the familiar black metal framework. Combine this with the occasional dabble into sections that have an old-school heavy metal influence and a healthy dose of chimes and you have an album that feels fairly unpredictable but remains enticing to the listener. What makes Funereal Presence so noteworthy is the project’s ability to take the intense build-ups and waves of atmosphere that black metal is known for, and add just enough outside influence and variation to the attack that it feels completely different.

The vocals are a mix of harsher screams and cleaner chanting/singing, but rather than taking the spotlight they have been recorded in a way that makes them blur into the instrumental work. It’s an approach that benefits The Archer Takes Aim, as the abrasive screams seem to ebb and flow alongside the guitars and just as they start to get swallowed up by the waves of sound they reappear and grab your attention all over again. But while the harsher ranges may be what initially intrigues people, I found that the cleaner singing and chanting was what I became focused on over repeated listens. It comes suddenly and without any warning, but adds so much to the arrangements and gives the vocal performance the same amount of versatility as the instrumentals.

The Archer Takes Aim provides every element that has drawn me to black metal over the years, as it has bursts of abrasive, violent riffing interspersed with moments of calmer reflective melodies. Combine that with some exploration of some outside influences and you have an album that has continued to draw me in as I find new elements with each listen. Funereal Presence doesn’t waste any of this album’s 48 minute run time, and it’s able to come across feeling like something unique without losing the jagged edge and chilling nature that black metal needs.

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