Furbowl - The Autumn Years
Black Mark
Death-Influenced Progressive Rock/Metal
10 songs (40:04)
Release year: 1994
Furbowl, Black Mark
Reviewed by Ken
Archive review

The year 1999 spawned an album called Moontower, it came bearing the name Dan Swanö—the only album that ever will. This album was hailed as one of the first true progressive death metal albums for its flawless mix of 70’s-influence prog rock and death metal. A true masterpiece indeed, but in 1994 an album by the name of The Autumn Years did virtually the very same thing. The band was called Furbowl.

Furbowl—what’s in a name?—is an oddity. To find a category to place this band in is almost impossible. The band consistently denied that they were a death metal band, though conceded to the fact that they would inevitably be placed in that category. In general terms, this would be correct, but what is it that makes it so hard to truly categorize this band? Well, they’re not one of anything, but more of many things. The label death-influenced progressive rock/metal I placed on this band sounds ridiculous I admit, but it’s simply meant to give you insight into what this band sounds like. I said they were an oddity, and they truly were, but a good one, and a band worth checking out.

The band formed around 1990 under the name Devourment, but four short years later, after releasing The Autumn Years, the band lost their singer who went on the form a new band. They briefly changed their name to Wonderflow, but never released anything and quickly disbanded. The singer in question was Johan Axelsson (aka Johan Liiva), most notable for his work with Arch Enemy—which was the band he helped form after leaving Furbowl—(he’s now currently singing for Hearse with fellow Furbowl alum Max Thornell on drums). In their short time Furbowl managed to release four demo tapes, an EP entitled Those Shredded Dreams—which features a Michael Amott (Arch Enemy) solo on two songs—and The Autumn Years.

I first heard this band in 1994 on a Carolina Records sampler CD—which I still have—called I Hear Ya - Winter Sampler 1994–1995, the song featured was “Weakend.” The song began with a simple bass line and then kicked in with a burly “Oh yeah!” which was followed by a quiet, creepy verse and then a riff heavy pre-chorus and a catchy, galloping styled chorus. What caught me off guard was the middle of the song, here it switches to a soft, melancholic strumming punctuated by a killer, yet beautiful solo! I was hooked immediately and quite interested to hear how the rest of the album would sound. A band that could include these seemingly disparate styles and make them work together so well was intriguing to me, to say the least, as I’d only just begun to branch out and really try different genres of music outside of my few favorite bands.

Though I’d had it downloaded for ages, it took me a long while to find an actual copy of this CD, which I managed to find this past July. Like I said previously, when I’d first heard the song “Weakend” over ten years ago, I was intrigued. But from the opening moment of “Bury The Hatchet”—with its heavy, bluesy feel, strengthened by Liiva’s unique, quasi-death-like howl—I was thoroughly hooked. The songs on the album are groovy, fast and heavy, and showcase some amazing lead work throughout; “Dead & Gone” features a frickin’ violin solo! All of the songs generally mix progressive rock with death metal, but most, like “Dead & Gone,” offer up some unique, unexpected elements, which keeps the album interesting; just slight twists in the program, even some dark, punk moments (gasp!). The album closes with the acoustic instrumental “Road Less Travelled,” and the dark, brooding “Still Breathing.” At this point you’d be hard-pressed not to hit the Repeat button.

Unfortunately Furbowl remain virtually unknown having been virtually unknown from their inception. This was a truly unique band at the time, the closest resemblance being Entombed with their trademark death ‘n’ roll style. That is still not an accurate comparison, nor is Dan Swanö’s Moontower, but they’re both valid starting points if you're interested.

Unofficial AUDIO: Weakend and Still Breathing (these MP3s are unofficial because there is virtually no information on this band anywhere on the net)

Note: In time these links will likely becoming outdated.

Killing Songs :
Cold World, Dead & Gone, Weakend, Baby Burn, and Still Breathing.
Ken quoted 85 / 100
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