Funereal Presence – Achatius

Following the tale of one of the fourteen holy helpers Achatius, more commonly known under the name of Saint Agathius, the patron saint against headaches and more importantly a central figure in the various wars against the Ottomans. His story is that of a soldier who was tortured and decapitated for not relinquishing his faith and therefore becoming a martyr. Funeral Presence expand on this brief tale by playing a form of Black metal that exists within the confines of the first wave yet but with subtle influences in overall scope and direction from the second wave.

The production here immediately hearkens back to Don’t Break the Oath with reverb heavy guitars that are very present in the middle frequencies as the bass and the bouncy Rock drums occupy the lower end of the spectrum. Vocals float on top with a Bathory like snarl that doesn’t fall into the codified Black metal shriek. On certain passages we are treated to bells that work in a central role with the rhythm guitars in regards to melody instead of a supporting role more commonly seen in the genre. Synths often appear in different textures and roles throughout the album without ever taking the central role. While the overall aesthetics succeed in creating the desired effect, the digital tools used to mix and master, often betray this record as there is a bit too much compression which eats at the dynamic range and makes this a tiring listen when the acoustic guitar segments are almost as loud as the blast beat driven passages.

The melodies here are very long and follow the combination of minor scale and pentatonic that was the foundation of that period. At times Funereal Presence have no issues with pushing towards atypical melodies and dissonant intervals that uneasily resolve which gives a strong otherworldly character to a lot of these passages. The bass diverges from the guitar in the same way that Joey Dimaio constructed his bass melodies on the early Manowar records while the riffs in general show take their source from Merycful Fate, Bathory and Show No Mercy. Unlike those bands the leads follow the Iron Maiden pattern of being harmonized and then juxtaposed against the thicker rhythm guitar melodies. Funereal Presence understand the source of their riffcraft and make excellent riffs but they often follow too closely their progenitors instead of the diverging from them which is where the band reaches its highest summits.

The album is divided into four songs that each surpass the ten minute mark and often feels gratuitous in doing so. Here lies the greatest area of contention for this music. There is an excessive amount of superfluous complexity not needed within these arrangements. Every idea, no matter its role is needlessly reintroduced later on within these songs including the melodies that obviously exist only to introduce more pertinent ideas to the development of each piece. At some points all momentum is killed to reintroduce acoustic guitar segments which creates the need for another long build up that wastes time to arrive where the song was before the break. While the reintroduction of ideas and their subsequent development is the central tenet to all forms of metal, Achatius makes a mess of it through overkill. This confuses what each song tries to convey and forces the listener to recreate the puzzle by discarding the redundant pieces. The most obvious symptom of this is the finale of “Wherein Achatius Is Flogged to the Hills of Violation”. Where the grandiose chanting against the emotional snarls should have led directly to the fitting hyperactive solo, it is held down by too many repetitions and useless additions that dull the climax almost completely.

Achatius is an enjoyable record that manages to explore new ground by returning to a period where ideas and conventions weren’t yet set in stone and by offering their take on it with knowledge on what would come after. Though there is some innovation it gets held down by its inability to express itself clearly. A similar record that prioritizes the interplay with the bells and the more unique riffs while trimming all the fat in the repetition would make for a much stronger listen.

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17 thoughts on “Funereal Presence – Achatius

  1. Lee says:

    So what are your best albums of 2019?

    1. Optimus Pessimus says:

      This record, havohej, and Jesus is King. They are all flawed but there was nothing better:

      Sammath- cool for 3 listens like all their shit
      Profanatica- lol
      Mefitis – gay millennial tribute quilt

      1. nothing better than Kanye right? Simple minded rap music with cheap flows and dumb lyrics, nothing better!

        1. autist grinder says:

          tfw simultaneously boomer and millennial.

          rap albums from 2010 on have indisputably been more creative than any metal albums, primarily because the genre isn’t preoccupied with riding its own coattails. in that genre you will not find “an excessive amount of superfluous complexity not needed within these arrangements” (did you not detect the ironic redundancy in that statement or are you playing 4D chess?) which is now the norm in practically every rock-adjacent scene. 3 chords and the truth sells… but who’s buying?

          bring back master and asphyx style writing. pussies are too chickenshit to write a chorus anymore.

          1. what irony within that statement? It’s simple FP repeat parts that aren’t meant to be repeated.

            Please tell me how Kanye’s music is any good. Simple pop production, bad rapping which is catastrophic for a genre where those are the main criteria.

            1. autist grinder says:

              mate your reading comprehension sucks.

              “excessive” and “superfluous” are contextually synonymous so your usage of both terms in the sentence is redundant.

              and I never said kanye was good.

              lay off the roids and read a book because your language skills are equivalent to that of a typical american 14 year old pothead.

              metalcucks articles are objectively written better than your nonsense.

              1. superfluous meaning adding nothing of value and excessive meaning too many elements within a predefined set.

                Nice try, go back to metalcucks if it makes you happy.

                1. autist grinder says:

                  aaalllrighty then, I rest my case.

    2. LostInTheANUS says:

      I’m more interested in the top 10 gay sex orgies Nikki and Brett attended in 2019

      1. autist grinder says:

        implying either get laid.

        implying anyone here gets laid.

        1. LostInTheANUS says:

          I got plenty of hot gay sex back when I visited Santa Monica Blvd 20 years ago

  2. Sedsu says:

    Achatius not Achiatus

  3. Frozenlake says:

    I quite agree with your review here, Achatius is a winner.
    I’m glad we can do agree on something.
    I wish you all the best for the new year, and do not hesitate to share with us other personal favorites.

    1. still finishing up on a few releases and your generous recommendations.

  4. blaszczykowski says:

    This sounds to me like a more confused black metal version of the Paradise Lost debut. I listened to the first track and it made me go back to that album to clear my head.

  5. LordKrumb says:

    One of the most telling signs of a good song/album is that it’s so good that it leaves you craving more – which usually means the song/album also stands up well to back-to-back repeat listening.

    As much as I enjoy many sections of the songs on this album, overall it’s like a heavily hopped American-style “IPA”: one spin/pint is enjoyable, but two is certainly too much.

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