Funeral doom is, simply put, what you listen to when you want to feel the utter depths of longing and despair. Wyrding’s self-titled album, out on Small Doses, wants to bring you down into their crevasse of sadness.
Saturated in rich baritone vocal harmonies that teeter on sounding like Gregorian chants, Wyrding’s music indeed trudges along at the pace of a funeral procession. The lyrical themes are what you’d expect from funeral doom: lust, lost love, longing, death, and our place in the cosmos. These tunes move so crushingly slow at times, you almost wonder if they were slowed down in post-production.
Wyrding’s male vocals are grandiose and clearly strive to soar to the epic heights of a cathedral spire while still maintaining sex appeal: Type O Negative meets Rammstein, perhaps. Although Troy Schafer’s vocals are full-bodied, to me, they lack the gravitas of a Peter Steele or the spine-tingling sensuality of a Til Lindemann. I am aware that other reviewers generally enjoyed the vocals on this album. To me, they lacked teeth.
However, the guitar work of Kyle Rosseler is stellar. Even though the music is categorized as funeral doom (with some definite eighties’ darkwave underpinnings), the guitar melodies are remarkably uplifting and hopeful. Bright guitar solos bridge leaden verses. There are some graceful acoustic guitar passages toward the end of the album; this counterbalance works well for Wyrding. I have also seen this effectively applied by the depressive suicidal black metal band Ghost Bath, who can artfully juxtapose despondent themes with surprisingly upbeat melodies. In both cases, the atmosphere can be downright disturbing.
The keys provided by Bert Hartl on “Steaming Blood Ascends Beyond the Moon” are solid throughout and are the highlight of the track. Otherwise, the keys are not doing anything too spectacular on this album. They do provide a lush foundation for the plaintive vocals and the spritely guitar. The band self-describes as “melodic” funeral doom, and with that in mind, I would have appreciated the opportunity to bear witness to a bowel-shaking keyboard performance. Please reference the band Ruins of Beverast for the proper execution of this technique.
Likewise, drummer Jerry McDougal and bassist Brian Steele served their purpose where needed. In my opinion, however, the rhythm section was vastly underutilized. I wanted this music to be more crushing, and Steele and McDougal could have added this extra weight, but I just didn’t find it with one notable exception in the opening track, “Poltergeist.”
The last two tracks on the album, “Agony in Being I/II,” which I believe come from a previously released EP, included some orchestration from strings and wind instruments. Or maybe it was just keyboards sounding like orchestration because no credit to additional musicians is given in the liner notes (it sounds authentic, however). These parts, as well as some sections that stray into atmospheric and experimental realms as well as more extensive use of keys, provided some auditory excitement and much-needed tension, where quiet restraint seemed to be the overarching order of the day.
Overall, Wyrding’s debut full-length is a good representation of American funeral doom, but this Wisconsin-based group did not provide me with the oppressive musical cocoon that I needed to crawl into so that I could properly experience melancholy. When I listen to funeral doom, I want that music to fall upon me like a ton of black velvet and lace-covered bricks. Instead, I felt more like I was listening to a competent yet strangely upbeat and reserved Skepticism tribute band.
02) Longing’s End
03) False Concept of Voyage
04) Impression I
05) Steaming Blood Ascends Beyond the Moon
06) Ahold a Wren
07) Impression II
08) Agony in Being I
09) Agony in Being II