The Belgian Death/Doom Metal band MARCHE FUNÈBRE put out their debut album in 2011: “To Drown” (see my review here). This was preceded to the 2009 EP “Norizon” (see my review here). This EP was a very nice introduction to this new band’s music. “To Drown” was then a solid confirmation of the skills they had shown on the EP. The album led them to stages in and out of the country, sharing them with several big names in the world of Doom, like ISOLE, MOURNING BELOVETH, SATURNUS, ATARAXIE and so on.
For the follow-up, “Roots Of Grief” (out since medio September), the band opted for a more organic sound, and again seven tracks, like on their debut album.
It begins with the epic “These Fevered Days”. Obviously things start out slow and it takes time to open up. Nothing fancy, all the more gloomy. As the song is over 13 minutes long, anything can happen. Arne’s gutteral vocals are classic, but show that, together with the music, this is indeed underground Metal. It drags and digs its claws into your mind. Speaking of vocals, there’s some clean ones as well, in a weeping/crying manner. And to be honest, they do contrast with the growls, but the timbre is something to get used to. The power of the music in the chorus is well done: clean and atmospheric, which also lets the vocals come out more. The last part of the song is all about musical talk, with leads. And as simple as that part may sound, MARCHE FUNÈBRE keeps its Doom refined in that respect.
“As In Autumn” has catchy vocal lines in the chorus, which is how the song starts. Clean vocals (is that Peter?) sort of show Arne how it’s done, and he then falls in with his clean vocals. The power of Doom follows a little later. And so it builds towards the verses, which are powerful and thundering, with bestial vocals. A clean bridge makes the link with the chorus, now with the added Doomness. “As In Autumn” is a more active song, there’s more change here, especially in the drum department. The guitars keep things catchy and stretched out. And this makes me wonder if it wasn’t originally a shorter song, but the guys decided to make it about 1.5 to 2 times longer. 😉 Nevertheless, it’s a fine Doom job they’ve done here.
MARCHE FUNÈBRE goes French in “L’Avenue Des Cœurs Passés”, a song that has a clean intro. And you know something heavy will follow, just not when. All continues in a clean manner, and calm, almost like a ballad. The drums are also simple and controlled, somewhat Jazzy. The power does show up, but melody remains a vital ingredient. The music is not as Doom-laden as before, though the occasional screams are not of the “happy happy, joy joy” kind. Melody is also dominant in the chorus, and the clean singing has a large hand in it. After a small step, it’s time to activate full power: pounding drums, Doom riffs, growls… everything’s unleashed. The chorus prepares the path for the butter, eh, solo moment. But fear not, for not all power was used up. Afterwards all ends in a slow, dragging way until the end.
“Nothing To Declare” could have been written by MOURNING BELOVETH. Slow Death/Doom with gutteral vocals. The lead work is very nice, sounds a little like a violin. There’s also clean, hymnic singing, keeping pace with the rhythm guitar. Ooh, a break of mystery: bass, adjusted drumming and whispered singing. Nice twist, though. And here as well it serves as a ramp towards power mode, with mainly the drums being the variable element on the ramp. All falls back then to melancholic, melodic Doom. While it sounds like a stretched song, it does give you the time to properly enjoy the music, the different elements and aspects.
You want groove? The Belgians give you groove: “Roots Of Grief”. Groovy guitars, pounding drums… powerful Doom indeed. It’s dark, relentless, and violent. The bestial vocals make it clear it’s not the garden of Eden. It’s midtempo Death Metal, albeit catchy. Where’s the grieving? Or should it not be considered in the traditional sense? This is, after all, quite an active song with lots of drive and energy. “Bleak” is one of the two tracks I found a little less strong or attractive. A clean guitar as basis, and whispering. And a heart beat. No, that’s the kick drum, but muted, it seems. Another mysterious and spooky track. An interlude for “Crown Of Hope”? This one also comes out clean, leading towards melodic, midtempo Post Rock-ish music, though with a Doomy mood. The second half is where the beasties hide: DOOM! It’s a good track, but some, like the preceding interlude, not as attractive (in my humble opinion) as the other songs.
MARCHE FUNÈBRE made a very good album two years ago, and so the bar was set high for the follow-up. “Roots Of Grief” is a small step back, I find, but overall it is another good album by my fellow countrymen. I’m not that fond of the clean singing (like I said, the timbre…), but I do like the production on this album a lot, it sounds more natural, realistic. There is also, all things considered, a bit more musical variety than before. If you’re into into this kind of “happy” music and are willing to give it time to open up, then you can’t go wrong with “Roots Of Grief”.
- These Fevered Days
- As In Autumn
- L’Avenue Des Cœurs Passés
- Nothing To Declare
- Roots Of Grief
- Crown Of Hope
Arne Vandenhoeck – vocals
Peter Egberghs – guitars, vocals
Kurt Blommé – guitars
Boris Iolis – bass
Dennis Lefebvre – drums