Few people know that “funeral doom” is really just an acronym for the elements that make up the art form. It was just a coincidence that the acronym formed such a perfect title for the genre. So, here at Last Rites, we’re excited to clue you into the secrets behind the ancient acronym that has worked for Thergothon, Skepticism, Evoken, and Ahab and all the other Kings and Queens of the genre. So, here’s a peek behind the velvety curtain:
The problem with so few people knowing these elements is that most bands tend to fall into a rather formulaic rip of prior funeral doom. A chorus pedal is employed over a guitar line that sounds oddly similar to something off Evoken’s Atra Mors, a thick, Ahab-sounding growl is accompanied by a riff that could have been taken straight from Angels of Distress and a drumbeat so slow, accompanied by so many loose, splashy cymbals you might as well spin In Fields of Pestilent Grief.
Full disclosure: this album was initially released in July 2017. Unfortunately, that release didn’t do this behemoth justice as it didn’t include some 180 gram, double LP vinyl gatefold mailed in a wooden ship that was hand-carved by some beast of the deep, dark ocean. That’s the kind of respect needed for V which was a triumphant return to form following IV – Mythologiæ, a completely ambient work focusing on minimalism and almost none of the aforementioned elements of the holy F.U.N.E.R.A.L.D.O.O.M. acronym. Although, it should be noted that V sees Slow embracing funeral doom more than any of their prior releases as they ditch the tonal keyboard work in favor of punishing waves of thickly-layered chords.
V is the band’s apex to date; a crushing work of suffocating proportion. The keyboard work has taken on a more somber tone, like on “Néant,” being used more as a call to harken to the impending crush of wave upon rock–wearing rough stones into smooth spheres. Alternately, light synth work opens the album on “Aurore” beckoning the listener to wade into the depths, far from shore, and experience a rebirth. Guitars enter, slowly and unambiguously, as hands scrape the strings between chords before a nearly operatic flow develops. The entire album’s ebb and flow builds to a culmination in “Mort” as the layers begin to be peeled back, revealing more melody, and a surprising touch of rhythm. Almost nearing the “death” area of doom, albeit briefly.
Slow has always provided a beautiful landscape upon which to rest your weary, troubled head. With V – Oceans they provide not only a landscape but a realm in which to place your thoughts. Much like a white noise machine, or an app that helps you meditate, Slow brings you into their world, calm but crushing, and urges you to hear the many layers of their music as chants and keyboards and synths and guitars all interweave to create beautiful melody amid darkening chaos. As funerals go, V would make a fine coffin in which to lay for eternity, this album on loop until it becomes your blood coursing through your veins awaiting a salty resurrection. So let the words whisper through your brain and arise with newfound purpose and power. Enter the sea, never to return to land again.