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Generally credited with inventing funeral doom, or at the very least furthering it towards being its own genre more than anyone else (it still isn't), Norwegian legends Funeral have been an ever-changing but ever-present entity in doom metal for over 15 years, which is precisely the period of time spanned by the tracks here. This To Mourn Is A Virtue is not the 1997 demo which became known by that title. This version of Wrapped All In Woe (an untitled snippet of which was previously available for free download from the band's website) originates there, but otherwise this is actually a collection of unreleased demo recordings laid down more recently, all remastered in 2010. Thus far only Hunger has been properly recorded for an album release (appearing on 2008's As The Light Does The Shadow). Although it's not obvious from listening to the record, that does actually mean several different singers can be heard as the band's line-up changed many times during that period, but their personnel choices each time clearly maintained the feel and sound of the band. The first four tracks were written in 1996 and come from the sessions for the original To Mourn Is A Virtue demo, but were partially re-written and re-recorded with then-current vocalist Frode Forsmo in 2004, intended for the next album but never released. The next four feature Oysten Rustad on vocals and were written in 1996. The last track is the remastered Wrapped All In Woe with Sarah Eick's original vocal track. At all times the band have clearly had a terrific ear for exactly what a song needs. On every example here they slow down when they need to, speed up when they need to, and when necessary they fall away completely to just a single clean guitar melody line. Accentuating string and piano passages littered througout, and particularly the haunting vocals of Eick on Wrapped All In Woe, give the record the feel of a My Dying Bride epic without the pained, harsh vocals. Every track is traditional, slow doom full of melancholy and depression. That demos separated by many years can be brought together in such a coherent way is remarkable, making this the perfect album to fill the void left by Reverend Bizarre's retirement until Funeral's next proper album.
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