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Unholy Death: Funereal Presence Comes Alive on “Achatius”

funereal presence

With a name as overtly macabre as Funeral Presence, it is to be expected that the art of subtlety is one that is left behind in favor of all-out madness and disarray. The man behind the USBM venture Bestial Devotion is no stranger to ominous odes as he dutifully serves also as Negative Plane’s crushing rhythmic force — enduring from Florida to New York since 2001, Negative Plane plants the seeds of operatic, ritualistic blackened death. When it comes to Funeral Presence, though, Bestial Devotion has taken these roots and grown them in an environment nourished with his uniquely magnetic born-too-late attitude. The time machine effect that his latest album Achatius achieves is twofold: there is a vintage quality, appealing to raw 1990s aggression, but also a degree of antiquity when it comes to themes and imagery dating back to centuries long since passed.

The road to the expertly-crafted Achatius has been paved with various successes. Funeral Presence’s enchanting 2009 self-titled demo saw a reboot in 2011 after capturing the attention of The Ajna Offensive, which, in turn caught a co-sign from Gylve Fenris Nagell of Darkthrone. After a few more years of cultivation, Funeral Presence was back it with The Archer Takes Aim — a heavyweight comprised of four dense but delectable parts. With towering organ-like synth and audacious riffs, Bestial Devotion seemed to be building a castle in which he could confide in solitude. While invoking the dimly lit but ever-delightful theatrics of King Diamond, Funeral Presence also maintains an all-in lo-fi approach in a similar vein to Mortuary Drape. The old world feel that the imagery of the etched archer provides brings the project’s concept full circle.

With this tradition in tow, Achatius is an offering of four more hulking tracks upon Funeral Presence’s altar. However, a similar format when it comes to practicalities does not mean Bestial Devotion’s songwriting has grown stagnant. Opener “Wherein Achatius is Awakened and Called Upon” begins by showing off a more delicate side: a folk arrangement that sounds as though it is being spearheaded by an oboe, which shifts to a shivering acoustic guitar. A quick swipe of the fretboard then welcomes a soundtrack to judgement day. Dirtied up arena riffs capture the cusp of the 1980s into the 1990s. Hell, there’s even a little cowbell peppered in.

Keeping us on our toes even further is the album’s artwork which appeals to a timeline ignited in the classical period, placing our egos, mortality, and position in the vast array of stars into much-craved perspective. And while our physical beings may be stuck in the bubble of 2019, gems like Achatius not only serve as a memento mori, but a tribute to various movements that should be preserved at all costs. While moving metal forward is an underrated quality in our frequently fickle scene, time-honored traditions will always deserve a corner of the unholy pentacle.

Achatius releases tomorrow via The Ajna Offensive.

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