Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sargeist - Funeral Curses (2005)

Funeral Curses was released in September 2005, by Adversary Productions, just weeks before Disciple of the Heinous Path emerged from the shadows. This collection was only available on cassette and featured six Sargeist songs that had previously been released on various compilations and splits, up until that point. The general idea was a good one, to gather up these tracks all in one place for fans of the band, yet a limited cassette release was not really the best way to go about doing this.

The songwriting is very similar to that found on Satanic Black Devotion and Disciple of the Heinous Path, though there is an even stronger feeling of melancholy in some of the tremolo melodies. "The Rebirth of a Cursed Existence", for example, features a mixture of fast and slower parts, though the vibe is sombre throughout. The thrashier riffs are alost reminiscent of old Mütiilation. "Sinister Glow of Funeral Torches" possesses a very morbid atmosphere, consisting of slower and darker riffs than some of the other tracks on here. "Reaping With Curses and Plague" features Shatraug on vocals, sounding more tormented than Hoath Torog and hearkening back to the first Horna demo. At times, it feels like Sargeist started out as a continuation of the style that existed on Varjoissa, and this song really brings that to the forefront. The closing moments of the song really has a sorrowful and epic feeling, something that will haunt your mind long after the tape has finished. As for "Cursed By the Flesh I Have Spared", this song previously appeared as a bonus track on the L.P. version of the first album, which makes little sense as it is just as strong as the rest of the material on there, so there was no reason to limit its inclusion. The only forgettable song on here is "Vorax Obscurum", which has more of a punk vibe and does not really fit in with the rest. "Wraith Messiah" makes up for this, being much more in line with the other compositions, yet maybe even more melancholic. During the more down-tempo parts, you can almost feel icy claws reaching into your chest and squeezing your heart, soon to rip it right out. It may be the highlight of this whole collection.

The production is not exactly the same, from song to song, so it is likely that they come from different recording sessions. Over all, they sound rather similar to the first album, though not nearly as powerful and somewhat quiet by comparison. This sounds very underground, though not exactly necro. There is a little hissing over the music, but not a lot. Every riff can still be easily heard and there is never a time when things run together and become a noisy mess. The bass is a bit more audible than usual, during some of the slower sections, though this kind of helps add to the dreary atmosphere.

This tape shows, again, just how creative Shatraug is and one has to be impressed with the fact that, though some similarities exist between this and his primary band Horna, it also possesses its own identity. Funeral Curses is very much worth seeking out, as it contains rare songs that are mostly high-quality. The only downside is that this compilation, itself, may also be a little hard to track down. Either way, this is essential listening for Sargeist fans or those into the early '90s style of Black Metal.