Remembrance – Frail Visions

Funeral doom is really ripe for parody these days. While I’m a tremendous fan of the style, even I have to admit that it’s incredibly easy to make fun of, and the only thing that saves it from an impressive lambasting at the hands of the greater metal community is its own relative obscurity. Come on, look at the elements that that compose a funeral doom song: trundling, subterranean tempo, a handful of three-finger power chord riffs, whispery growls bellowing such melodramatic lyrics that it would make Dani Filth weep for our future; while I take it seriously, it’s pretty silly when you boil it down to its simplest elements. Obviously, my opinion isn’t quite as derisive when you put all those elements together, but by virtue of its description, it deserves a great mocking from all of us.

I say this because Remembrance, a two-piece funeral doom group from France, makes possibly the most archetypical (and, naturally, stereotypical) funeral doom in the world. ‘Frail Visions’ is most certainly an album I have to listen to in the right frame of mind, lest I be reduced to a fit of giggling simply by how very SERIOUS it all is. I’m pretty sure the members of Skepticism have a greater sense of humor than Carline and Matthieu, whose compositions simply drip with the nascent drama of existence. And it seems so remarkably intent at being depressing that it doesn’t seem to really work; perhaps they should not try as hard, because as it stands, I have no doubt that this album was written by candlelight, individual lines of lyrics slowly crafted between sips of red wine and with the smoke of cigarettes held dejectedly to the respective members’ sides clinging to the air. Perhaps it was even recorded in a church; it wouldn’t really surprise me.

Yeah, but I’m being kind of cruel, because musically, I like it, more or less. You know how an album such as, say, ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, despite adhering so strictly to all the (current) clichés of the genre, still manages to be effective and stirring? Well, ‘Frail Visions’ certainly isn’t on the same level of ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, but it does have some of the same qualities. ‘Frail Visions’ is pretty much a walking stereotype of what funeral doom is supposed to be, but still manages to retain musical quality despite this. It is, of course, a slave to genre conventions, and it doesn’t present them in a particularly new way, but it does well for what it does have.

Growled/spoken word vocals, very slow to somewhat midpaced tempos, guitars that alternate between monolithic power chords and winding leads, programmed drums (though I’m not really sure why, because it’s obviously not robustly percussive music), and ethereal keyboards, it’s all there. And it’s all wrapped up with the spectacular sense of melodrama that this band somehow manages to harness in a form of music that often is defined by some level of emotional minimalism. A couple isolated piano pieces make up interludes through the album, but most of it is pretty typical ‘chun… chun… grrrrrr’ funeral doom. I’d say that there’s something of a gothic atmosphere at work here, something like Pantheist, but lacking that band’s subtlety in delivery. I can’t say that any songs stand out in particular, because they all sound the same. And it’s not even that they all sound like Remembrance songs, they just all sound like funeral doom songs.

Despite how critical I’m being of the album’s lack of originality, I still give it a listen somewhat frequently. It’s nothing that I completely soak in like Skepticism, but it’s something enjoyable that I like to put on in the background while I work. It’s lightly depressing, well-composed, emotional music, so I can’t fault it for all the things it does, because it does them well. Pretty much any funeral doom fan is going to find themselves enjoying this, so you can take this review as a fairly solid recommendation of ‘Frail Visions’. Yeah, it’s kind of silly, but it’s still a fun listen.

Wait, this is Remembrance. No moshing possible, no core present, a minor trend followed, and fun strictly forbidden.

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~ by noktorn on April 27, 2007.

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