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Recently I had a discussion with my comrade gasmask_colostomy about our favorite topic. He asked me what I like so much about doom/death metal to begin with and my answer came down to its emotional richness as well as its time-related sounds. Of course we still have doom/death metal bands floating around today, but if I could choose between Anathema’s The Silent Enigma and a recent October Tide record, I’ll be glad to choose the former. It’s flawed on a musical level, absolutely, but its raw passion makes it a pleasant listen on a personal level.
Just like many other bands, Funeral Cult could have only emerged from the 90’s and given the emotional depth that Korowody cieni retains, I’ll be damned if this doesn’t satisfy my needs. While the Aaron Stainthorpse-esque gruff vocals neither contribute nor take away anything of its emotional value, the guitars manage to inject a lot of life into these songs. Lead riffs provide a feeling of tension and drama, as “The Wonderer” conjures eeriness that I felt once I heard Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium for the first time, where a spiraling lead riff introduces its verse. Slower riffs feel more relaxed, yet provide that melancholic backbone to the record’s action-driven plot. This is best exemplified with “The Son”, where some vulnerable clean vocals speak over a series of slow-moving guitar passages and gradually lead towards a climax where the gruff vocalist cries out in anguish.
Yet ultimately Korowody cieni works because the five compositions never stick to the same slower tempos for too long, nor do sections pass by in a matter of seconds. The aforementioned “The Wonderer” basically consists of three sub-themes, yet they all lead naturally into each other. First, there’s its introduction that already sounds somewhat “off” – meaning that it could only work as a buildup towards the madness that’s about to be unleashed, regardless of the ordinary acoustic guitar line that comes with it. Then the main plot reveals itself through a series of emotionally evocative lead riffs and given that no other band relied on lead riffs like Funeral Cult did, the journey towards the unknown becomes quite clear. Finally, a break interrupts the composition’s mood, where an airy Soulside Journey-esque keyboard hovers above some thicker, low-end chords. Remaining compositions follow suit; sometimes vaguely hinting towards earlier doom/death metal (“The Son” does recall early Anathema during its slowest moments, for instance) and sometimes engage in distinctive manners due to the unique lead-guitar-attack.
While the record’s formula isn’t too flexible, Korowody cieni never turns into a one dimensional bore – the amount of subtle changes manage to make a huge difference. Ending Korowody cieni on a serious high note, ”Ogień (Fire)” starts off with a Burzum-esque keyboard motif and what was the last time you heard that on a doom/death metal track? Obviously never and although this seems like a weird choice, nothing seems to be too weird for these Poles. It may not be the ideal pick in terms of emotional fulfillment, yet musically it highlights its superb qualities. Heavy-weight chords loudly crash beneath the vocalist’s moans and roars – while the lead-riff motives lead the track onward with greatness, making it a progressive, yet epic album closer.
Funeral Cult were a strange band and you might need a few spins before Korowody cieni will click, yet its beautiful features make it one of the best doom/death metal records to originate from Poland.
Release date: 1996
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