Funeral Whore has a bit of an interesting history as far as their band members go. The group formed back in 2006 and comes to us from North Holland in the Netherlands. Since then, they have amassed a small amount of pieces to their discography over the years. However, as the group seemed to continue to grow and push forward to their next evolutionary step, they also had hard time retaining a drummer, an issue that never really seemed to hold them back. As it stands, Funeral Whore is on their fourth drummer, while all the other members of the group are founders. Coincidentally, that number of past drummers also reflects the amount of demos from 2009 and on, making up a chunk of their previous offerings next to an EP in 2010, and a split with Profanal in 2011. For 2012, the band find themselves signed to Chaos Records to issue their debut full-length Death Metal effort Step into Damnation.
Having spent six years honing their sound, and another roughly two years releasing freshly recorded material, it seems as though it is about time for Funeral Whore to make their presence known in the Metal world outside their local fanbase and word of mouth listeners. Step into Damnation boasts a pretty deep, bass heavy sound with a slightly raw edge, and honestly it’s what you would expect given the smaller label and the bands that have come before them on it. The guitars range from a really deep distortion that has a strong amount of noise at a rather loud volume, to a slightly higher, more mid-range blunt distortion that caters to a dirtier sound at a lower decibel, especially when played together without the lead taking over with catchy riffs. The drums stand out nicely too with a great recording quality to just about all of the kit. The cymbals come off pretty loud and clear without being too overbearing, and the snares are a little more distant in comparison, but the looser, more natural sound works perfectly for some of the more haunting chords, as well as brutal atmospheres. The bass kicks, however, have a pretty loud click that isn’t too bad, but at the same time kind of stick out more like a sore thumb considering the level they are against everything else. Even the bass guitar itself is pretty low in the mix, but still audible due to the deeper distortions used. Sadly, these two instruments don’t quite work together as well as they should due to this. Of course the bass guitar does sound great with the additional lower guttural vocals that adorn each track. While these may be good, there’s nothing too fantastic about them, boasting about the same amount of energy in each performance, though not holding much of a bite, as well as range.
But, that doesn’t really hold the songs back from having a good impact, and the ones with more energy behind the performance, especially in the music, are the ones that leave the biggest impression. “Eternal Genocide” kicks the album off in that manner with a blistering Death Metal assault of pure brutality. The speed never caves to blast beats, finding many groove-fueled riffs to grab the listener and hammer away at their skull. This song does take a brief moment to throw in some grim, haunting slower passages, which does lead to a short guitar solo that works with the mood well. All of this is transitioned in and out nicely, setting the tone for the rest of the album, though not all the songs match the speed or intensity. In fact, much of the album finds itself at a slower or mid-tempo, such as “Obidience,” which happens through all different paces as if a very odd sugar fit. Many of the speedier moments come in during bridges, though the slower, creepier moments make up everything that doesn’t happen to be in between those paces for the main verses.
“Step Into Damnation” comes right off a much lighter song that we’ll get to later. This one needs to be addressed largely for its teasing introduction. Again, a slower pace is established alongside a strong dark atmosphere with a church bell going off in the background following an appropriate spoken word audio sample. However, shortly after this ominous start, the track hammers into more fast paced Death Metal that doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, but is easily one of the best tracks to be found here. The pace is unrelenting much of the time, and the vocals even feel a little more powerful and energetic compared to other faster songs like “Eternal Genocide.” The drums really take over during the slower moments, especially the cymbals that manage to fill the music up well, and even the bass kicks work out at various moments thanks to the power the rest of the instruments bring with them, kind of dulling the volume down a little bit, even during the open yet sinister introduction.
Of course you can’t ignore some of the tracks that don’t rely so much on brutality, as they do on how catchy they are. “El Salvador Death Squad” is a pretty strong track that goes at a slower pace and is heavily groove oriented. With that said, there’s a general creepy tone to the track which really grabs the listener’s attention. The simpler music does feel a lighter compared to others because of the lack of a bludgeoning tone, and also ends up feeling a bit like the odd-man-out in a way considering this is one of the very few to sound like this. Even “Pierce My Flesh” doesn’t stick out as much. This one does have some quicker material that feels like it was meant to carry some brutality with it, leaving behind much of the obvious groove that the song starts with, but in the end that underlying rhythm is easily detectable with varying bridges that are set in place to remind you about it. The only time the song won’t do that is during the slower passage that doesn’t necessarily feel forced into the mix, but ultimately does come off pointless, as if only there to cater to a haunting guitar solo of equal speed.
Funeral Whore is a more like a mixed bag of Death Metal. There’s plenty of brutal, fast tracks that hammer away at the listener, but you get some random groove-heavy tracks as well, and many slower passages that bring in an intimidating or creepy tone to the album. While all of these are superb, given how many quicker tracks there are, the slower passages and the atmosphere they bring with them end up feeling a little out-of-place, and even kind of pointless after a while since much of the time they seem to only be used to space out a slower guitar solo. With this kind of musical composition, it’s a little hard to get a direct feel of what the band is going for with Step into Damnation, causing the fluidity here to become a little choppy with the only real stable element being the bludgeoning, deeper atmosphere that is capitalized on most of the time by the band. If you enjoy a little variety in your Death Metal, mixing brutal head banging mandates with curb stomping goodness, then this album is well worth a shot. But, if consistency is what you’re after, you’ll find yourself a little more let down than you should considering many of the solid tracks found here.