I am not sure whether I can call Funeral Chasm a side-project of Above Ravens, but this new entity was formed in early 2020 by two members of this fine yet truly underestimated Pagan act from Danish soil. String-virtuoso Morten ‘Sjaelepest’ Lund and Danny ‘Woe’ Jönsson (voices and lyrics, drums and percussion, synths and piano, programming / sampling, additional string-work) (also known from e.g. Altar Of Oblivion or Woebegone Obscured) are the driving forces behind this new outlet of joy, happiness and mirth.
The duo did write and record this stuff in the Ocean Woe Studio (run by D Woe, evidently); it was mixed by Christian Norgaard and eventually mastered by, who else, Greg Chandler at his legendary Priory Recording Studio. Funeral Chasm signed to Aesthetic Death (smart choice!) for the physical (and digital) release of this debut full-length, being released on both CD and LP. The compact-disc version is a fine three-folded (or six-panel) digipack with sixteen-page booklet (which includes the English lyrics and remarkable, truly stunning astral-psychedelic-like visual artwork); the vinyl pressing is available in two versions, being a ‘normal’ black as well as a blue edition. It comes with fine cover artwork by Cadies Art (i.e. Caio Caldas, known for his visual assistance for bands like Wings Of Destiny, Overdose Nuclear, Arrayan Path, Cipher and many more), while the layout was mastered by Stijn ‘SVC’ Van Cauter, you know, the mastermind behind fabulous projects like Until Death Overtakes Me, The Nulll Collective or Beyond Black Void, amongst many others.
The seven ‘songs’ on Funeral Chasm’s first full-length Omniversal Existence clock almost fifty minutes. It took a couple of listens, and still I can’t put this stuff into one or another specific category – if only that would be needful, of course. Actually, what these guys bring is a self-faced form of Funeral Doom. Funeral Doom indeed is the core of Omniversal Existence, going for the spine of this lengthy experience. It comes with quite some characteristic elements, paying tribute to the most convincing basics of the scene. It’s slow – of course it is – with a focus on melancholic melodies, varying voices (clean chants and grunts, and more; I’ll come back to it immediately), the injection of acoustic and ambient intermezzi, you know. Yet still, somehow Funeral Chasm have, as mentioned, a very own, specific and recognizable approach.
Dissecting the seven hymns, one can conclude that they have been build around a basement of firm yet, as said, slow but melancholia-laden melodic guitar-parts. The melodious character often comes with a hypnotizing flow, executed through mesmerizing tremolo leads and dreamlike twin-play. Once in a while, that guitar-work has a modest gothic-laden attitude, and the nostalgia behind the atmosphere strengthens that approach. In a very organic way, at the same time, several guitar parts exhale a soniferous and, all at once, a pitch-dark sphere too, going for both lead and rhythm sections. It’s not the blackness as in ‘blaspheme’, nor of the suicidal kind, but still the whole expresses pain, morbidity, misery, even adjuration and mystery. That gets translated as well through the textual side of the album. Accepting the truth will demand your full attention to the source of forgiveness / Ethereal strength will be provided / more now than ever there’s need to restrain from the pure embellishment of the soul / Take care (extracted from the opening song Embellishment Of Inception).
As significant as the whole ‘leading’ sequences is the rhythm section. The compositional structures get powerfully supported by an amazing orchestration of rhythm and bass guitars, drums / percussions and synth-lines. When talking about that support, one cannot deny the gravity of the four- and six-string sessions, whether it gets performed the electric, acoustic or semi-acoustic way. The balance of these guitar sections adds a level or naturally solemnized grandeur. This is quite the same for the whole percussion impact. Here too, the diverse yet cohesive performance is outstanding: sometimes slowly pumping, sluggish and ponderous, then again hammering and exuberant in behaviour. The firmly varied drum-work characterises this band’s versatile craftsmanship.
The use of keyboards is often subtle and almost secretly performed at times, with a couple of unmortgaged excerpts as well. Most of the time, it sort of colours the floating atmosphere with a modest, almost unnoticeable flair. Then again, more than once the synths play a leading role, with piano-like tunes, Seventies-sounding and intoxicative chapters, or almost symphonic fragments. Omniversal Existence does not turn out to be a key-based album, but just like all other instruments and vocals (see next paragraph), it results in a coherent equilibrium of Aural Art.
The main voices are or abyssal growling or cleanly chanting. But it goes further, of course. The harmonious chants dwell in between semi-crooning and vivid, with a nice and clever, level-headed timbre, as well as a couple of rather high-pitched swipes. The other ‘main’ vocal performance comes from a wretched and deep-throated level of murky doom, roaring and humming. The long-stretched growls add a level of dungeon-like gloom. But it goes further, for Funeral Chasm make use of some whispers too, as well as diverse rather blackened tortured screams, or additional drawn-out repining voices (and repining does not have a negative connotation in this case).
The duo succeeded to create a mighty epos with a well-balanced, powerful and convincing sound-quality. The production and the mix are full, overwhelming and free of any irritating noises at the background, but at the same time the result does not sound too artificially clean either. The epics are decently polished, yet not of the exaggerated surgically-clinical kind. That is a positive thing, for it does fortify the rudeness and desperation behind this album’s concept / message.
There is a lot to experience, and to uncover, but Omniversal Existence needs (and deserves) several listens. Each time, the experience seems to show a hidden layer unexplored yet, and the whole sort of grows, getting richer and more adventurous. Despite the huge variation within each single track, the whole album preserves a sequacious identity. One might canalise his / her own emotional state of mind through experiencing this album, and that is exactly the aim behind this sonic experience.