Funeral Mist - Hekatomb
Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Black Metal
8 songs (43:01)
Release year: 2018
Funeral Mist, Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Reviewed by Goat

This year's disappointing release from Marduk also saw a much underappreciated return from Mortuus/Arioch's original band, only the third since he formed the project in 1993. And as fans of 2003's Salvation and 2009's Maranatha will expect, this is excellent, having the imagination and near-playful variety that Viktoria could have used so badly. Perhaps the split attention meant that his main band suffered more, but there's little doubt that Hekatomb is the superior of the two albums. Mixing the usual fast, chaotic blasting with slower, more reflective and atmospheric passages as well as a solid (but smaller than before) dose of experimentation, it fits in well with the two previous albums. Songs like Metamorphosis have more of that compellingly evil 'sermon' feel that is all too rare in black metal, with Arioch ranting over a backing male choir and tremolo riffing, but the slow intro with those tapping drums (courtesy of former Marduk drummer Lars Broddesson) is delightful, allowing the choirs full creepy power before unleashing the black metal riffs to their full advantage.

Often it seems like Arioch uses song intros to indulge himself in experiments before turning the main song over to darkness - look at album opener In Nomine Domini for a perfect example, opening sample soon followed by strange, almost progressive riffs that become part of the black metal wall of sound before returning in the spaces between the verses, almost as a breather from the chaos. The switch to a ranting sample atop chugging, almost Slayer-type riffing is perfectly judged for full impact, as is the near flawless lead into the oddly rocking Naught but Death with its The Blonde Beast-esque riffing and sinister backing singing. Each track somehow manages to have its own identity and remain distinct from its surroundings, whether it's the strange child's voice on Pallor Mortis, the deranged church bells of Within the Without, or the technical guitarwork on Shedding Skin.

Cockatrice is probably the album highlight, beginning with a flurry of strange, high-pitched riffing then evolving into an almost Burzumic atmospheric piece with those classic xylophone-esque keyboard plinks in the background, gradually coming into focus as the black metal itself fades away and you're left with the keyboards and blowing wind before it crashes back in. Terrific stuff, not least because the closing percussion again leads perfectly into the following Metamorphosis, as described earlier; this album feels crafted in a way that Viktoria sorely lacked, and it makes a real difference when it comes to enjoyability and replay value, of which Hekatomb has much. Strangely, it feels more like an album from ten years ago that an album that truly belongs to 2018 when compared to other big black metal releases of the year; perhaps that's just my personal rose-tinted view of the past vs now when it comes to what black metal should be. Yet it's easy to forget that the former Funeral Mist albums are nearly ten and fifteen years old respectively, and Hekatomb feels close enough to them in sound and quality that it could have come out then. Maybe good music is timeless; in any event this is an excellent album, if not quite as good as its illustrious forebears then good enough to be mentioned in the same breath and better than most black metal I've heard this year.

Killing Songs :
In Nomine Domini, Naught but Death, Cockatrice, Metamorphosis
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Funeral Mist that we have reviewed:
Funeral Mist - Maranatha reviewed by Charles and quoted 90 / 100
Funeral Mist - Salvation reviewed by Daniel and quoted 98 / 100
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