Xtreem Music continues their reissue series with yet another old school death metal record, Finland’s Funebre‘s debut (and only) full length album, Children of the Scorn. Along with bands like Abhorrence, Funebre stands as one of the first death metal bands that come out of Finland, making them one of the pioneering bands of the genre out of the country. This reissue version of Children of the Scorn is my first encounter with Funebre‘s music, and it has certainly left a lasting impression.
The old school and unpolished production quality immediately hits the listeners as the album begins with Waiting for the Arrival, and unlike the many bands that attempt to emulate such a production, Funebre has the advantage of recording this back in the early 90s, making this piece of artwork as authentic as possible. True to attempts to create music as extreme and as hard-hitting as possible, the band does not hesitate to go straight into an aggressive section, lambasting listeners’ ears right from the start as Waiting for the Arrival begins before gradually slowing down to a slightly doom-paced section, yet retaining the ferocity in the music throughout. The guitar tones of Sami and Esa are abrasive and heavily distorted, with no intention to provide any easy-listening moments for listeners. Drummer Toni is also flashy, displaying his moves throughout the album, instead of simply playing the role of the rhythmic instrument, topped by the gruff growls of Jari. Even bassist Erkki is clearly audible, especially on songs like Blood on White where he provides the low, rumbling presence in the music.
While the tracks on Children of the Scorn are undoubtedly old school death metal, the band has also included influences from other genres as well, including thrash metal influences in their music, like on Shiver and Walls that Held Screams, with the chaotic sounding guitar riffs and lead solos. The band also makes use of various sound effects (such as the tolling of the bells on Waiting for the Arrival) to create a chilling sense of unease in the listener, to good effect. Of course, this being the late 80s-early 90s, the focus on fast and furious guitar work is obvious as guitarists Sami and Esa constantly include shred-infused guitar solos throughout, complete with the somewhat flamboyant play on the whammy bar, like on Sinner’s Eve. Songs like Grip of Insanity even sounds like the early beginnings of the Swedish style of death metal with the riffing and drumming patterns.
Also, it is nice to hear how on this record, the band has managed to help lay down the foundations of what bands like Incantation would sound like in the future, being originally released a year before the classic Onward to Golgotha, with tracks like Blood on White sounding like a less dark version of Incantation materials. The band also does not shy away from using keyboards to shroud the music in a heavy atmosphere, as heard on Blood on White and Congenital Defeat. The numerous slow moments on the album also sees Funebre displaying some of their most emotional material, especially on the interlude Spirits Bewail, with the acoustic guitars and a somewhat symphonic backdrop.
Included on the Xtreem Music reissue of the album as well are the band’s 1989 and 1990 demos, displaying the growth and evolution in the band’s musical directions, though markedly rawer and muddier than the material on Children of the Scorn. The music on the demos are overall slower, and the production quality of the demos help to make these tracks sound even darker than those on Children of the Scorn. Even tracks like Grip of Insanity (present both on the 1990 demo and Children of the Scorn) sound heavier and hits the listeners harder. Jari’s vocals are more throaty and gurgled on the demos, and tend to lean more towards a brutal death metal style, giving the songs a different and more brutal feel.
Overall, this reissue is a worthy purchase for fans of good, early death metal, and fans of Finnish death metal that want to track the progress of Funebre as a band, with more than 1 hour of music present on the album.