The Sleep of Morbid Dreams
FUNEBRARUM is a band that mixes its American roots with the European, especially Finnish old school. Their music is generally extremely morbid, crushing, atmospheric and brutal. They have debuted with great "Beneath the Columns of Abadoned Gods" stuff, full of heaviness, inhuman barbarity, rhythmically perfected with feelings of horror and madness! Their latest product is the second "The Sleep of Morbid Dreams" album. Here they a little left strong perversion of the American spirit, and they opted more to the madness of bands like DEMILICH, DEMIGOD, ADRAMELECH, FUNEBRE and the like. More melodic, powerful songs, but still with their typical dark signature! After the first FUNEBRARUM appearance in the Czech Republic and Europe at all in this year, I have decided to contact this band; it's already a legend in the underground. Something about the new album, about how they liked in Europe, and so on you will know in subsequent interview. Questions were answered by bassist Dave Wagner.
Hello Dave. Above all, I wonder what is happening today around FUNEBRARUM since your last "The Sleep of Morbid Dreams" album was released in 2009. Do you have written some new stuff for your next recording? Do you know what form of release it will be?
Hails to you Mortuary! It is a pleasure to be featured in “Necrosphere.” It has been over 3 years since “The Sleep of Morbid Dreams” was unleashed and we hadn’t been too busy with FUNEBRARUM for a while up until about a year ago. Since last May, we have performed at the Maryland Deathfest, the Killtown Deathfest and completed a European tour with UNDERGANG at the end of February. We did record a new track for a “tour exclusive” split 7” EP with UNDERGANG at the end of last year and we are in the process of starting to write new material for one or two more 7” EPs and from there we will work on stuff for the next album.
Do you remember even the moment when FUNEBRARUM started? How did it all happen? What was the main idea to start so morbid band? It was probably in 1999...
I do not remember the exact moment that FUNEBRARUM was birthed, as it took a while to evolve from an idea to reality. The seeds were sown in the summer of 1996. Vocalist Daryl Kahan and I were busy with our Black Metal band ABAZAGORATH and in the course of playing some of our first gigs in New York City; we got to play with and get to know the guys from local Doom Death Gods EVOKEN. They were really nice, easy going guys so we started to talk and hang out a bit. Their guitarist Nick Orlando and keyboard player Dario Derna shared very similar tastes in music with Daryl and myself, particularly a love for late 80s / early 90s Death Metal, stuff like NIHILIST, MACABRE END, FUNEBRE, DEMILICH, DEMIGOD, AUTOPSY, ROTTREVORE, REPULSION, MASTER, etc. Eventually the idea of forming a band in that style came up and we went for it. It took a while for things to finally get off the ground as the line-up shifted around a few times before settling down. In 1999, Daryl, Nick and Dario (who was playing drums), recorded the “Triumphant Ascent” demo. I did not play on the demo, but soon after that I was in the band full time. Dario moved to Michigan shortly after recording “Triumphant…” and we recruited Brian Jimenez to fill his position. Sometime after that we added a second guitarist, Dan Dornberier, and by 2000 we started to play some gigs in the New York area with bands like MORTICIAN, MALIGNANCY, NUN SLAUGHTER, CRUCIFIER, MAYHEM, HATE ETERNAL, EXHUMED, INCANTATION, NILE amongst others. The demo was getting a great reaction and crowds were going nuts at our live shows. It seems that a lot of people in the scene appreciated our return to the “old ways” of Death Metal.
After the first two demo tapes there came your "Beneath the Columns of Abadoned Gods" debut by Necroharmonic Productions ... I think this stuff is still brutally horrific and heavy, a great album of extreme Death Metal. Are you satisfied as for music and production? Would you change anything if you could?
Yes, I am still very much satisfied with all the aspects of how “Beneath the Columns…” turned out. As far as the songs go, they were 100% in the style we were going for, so we are still pleased with how they turned out. The production came out extremely raw and rough around the edges, but I think it only adds to the atmosphere the songs evoke. It certainly isn’t pretty, but that was the point… No, I have no regrets so I would leave everything as it was done the first time around. One little point of trivia is that “Beneath…” is actually the same recording as the “Tombs of Sleeping Darkness” 2000 promo re-mixed and re-mastered.
Your debut is like the epitome of falling into the endless abyss of abomination and monstrosity. Listening to it always I find myself in unknown haunted dungeons full of disgusting repugnancy. Also the sound is killing, heavy as hell; the music is crushing, raw, without any signs of trendy ballast; a perfect Death Metal according to the ideas of many fanatics. Is morbidity your main idea at the writing process?
The reason why FUNEBRARUM came into being was to create Death Metal that possesses an atmosphere of true Darkness and Horror. That is our mission statement, nothing less… Morbidity is absolutely the main goal when we write…
I really appreciate you use many slow Doomy riffs and tempos, as well as medium or fast and furious moments. I can hear you really prove to play with composition and bring strong decayed atmosphere. Could you imagine playing music very quickly without any slowdown? There are many extremely fast bands today. I think they lost a lot of elements...
I think that the variety of tempos in our songs make them compelling. I like to think of a song as a story, so the pace should change as the plot carries the listener along the way. I think a lot of the chilling, haunting atmosphere as well as the brutal heaviness come across best in the slower, doomy passages and in the churning mid-tempo parts. I love a lot of fast bands, but I much prefer to change things up as I think that it makes the music more interesting. I agree that bands that think they have to be the fastest or most technical usually fail to write really good songs in the end…
What was the feedback to your debut? Sure you have read many reviews from around the world and you have spoken to many fans. Have you received also some critical feedback? How do you take criticism?
The “Beneath the Columns…” record was really well received when it came out. It seems that many Die Hard maniacs in the scene felt that it was a much needed breath of (not so ) “fresh air” considering what was “in style” at the time. We still get a lot of compliments about “Beneath the Columns,” and that means a lot to us. It is great to be able to create something that has the power to inspire people years after its inception. I’ve been performing music in one form or another for most of my life, so I have gotten pretty used to taking criticism, be it positive or negative. I am careful not to let too many kind words go to my head and try not to let bad reviews get me down. We have been fortunate with FUNEBRARUM as the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive all along.
Can you write which role "Dormant Hallucination" EP with two old songs, played in your discography? The cover artwork was provided by Dan SeaGrave himself. Was it a work for your order?
As the band had been inactive for a couple of years prior to its release, “Dormant Hallucination” was something to show that we were working to get back on track. FUNEBRARUM had essentially fallen apart at the end of 2000 when Brian quit the band. Nick, Daryl and I tried to keep things going periodically between working on stuff for our other bands but we found it nearly impossible to find a suitable and competent replacement for Brian. Daryl was in contact with Wes Rhodes of Midnight 666 Records at about this time, and he was planning to start a project called CADAVERIZER with Kam Lee and some of the EXHUMED guys. The original idea was for a FUNEBRARUM / CADAVERIZER split 7” EP. Unfortunately for Wes, CADAVERIZER never got off the ground so he offered us both sides of the EP. Although we didn’t have a full time drummer, Daryl asked a friend of his, Justin DeTorre (now vocalist for the killer INNUMERABLE FORMS) to sit in. Because of the lack of time to prepare new tracks, we decided to record new versions of “Dormant Hallucination” and “Adoration of Abscessed Cadavers.” So we rehearsed a few times with Justin and went in to the studio. We were also fortunate that Wes was kind enough to “donate” the Dan Seagrave piece he had commissioned for the CADAVERIZER side for use as our cover. Pretty fucking awesome!! I think it is one of Seagrave’s best works, so I am really happy that we were able to use it.
After the split with INTERMENT you have finally arrived with another great "The Sleep of Morbid Dreams" album. With this one you have made it clear that your great inspiration is quite Scandinavian Death Metal, of course, in conjunction with the American school. The debut seemed converse, the more American style Death Metal with influences from let’s say Finland...
Well, if our inspiration changed at all, it was more focused on setting ourselves apart from out influences. You are correct that there is a definite development in our sound, but this is most likely due to the line-up changes, the manner in which we recorded the songs and the clearer sounding production. We have always been equally inspired by the old Swedish, Finnish and US masters, but at this point we are more interested in moving away in our own direction…
Seems to me you have added more melody in second album, of course, quite morbid and dark one, well you have adapted sound more to the European bands style. Is "The Sleep Of Morbid Dreams" the culmination of your previous work to you?
I guess there are indeed some more melodic moments on “The Sleep of Morbid Dreams.” The acoustic opening of “Nex Monumentum” as well as the various melodies and leads that Matt Medeiros added brought a new dimension to the songs. I would definitely call that album the current high point for FUNEBRARUM but we have every intention of surpassing it with the next one!
Can you outline direction of your future work development? Will it be like a combination of your two albums, or you will move somewhere else again?
It is a bit premature to say too much as the writing process is just getting underway, but we have no plans to stray from the path of polluting the world with horrific and deadly Dark Death Metal!! Do not expect any drastic changes in the style of the new material. One example of the direction we are headed can be heard on our side of the “Dead of Winter” split 7” with UNDERGANG, the song “Delusions in the Sheltered Womb.” That one is a definite blend of old and new, as it has a rougher sound than the last album, but it still possesses the signature Doom and blasting sections. It also shows off some insane trade off guitar leads from Matt and new guitarist Alex Bouks.
Where do you find most inspiration for your creation? Can we speak also about non-musical spheres in terms of inspiration? Seems that some of you are fans of H. P. Lovecraft ...
We are inspired by the bands we grew up listening to, horror films and literature, the occult, the darker aspects of history and the world around us and mostly by the sick thoughts in our twisted minds!! Yes, most of us are indeed Lovecraft fanatics. I am hugely inspired by his writings. I have read most of his stories many times and I never get tired of them. His insane visions of other-worldly terror were truly ahead of their time…
Do you believe in supernatural and mysterious things? There are many things as if beyond reality, many ghosts’ and demons stories, practicing the magic, abductions falling within the 'X Files', other dimensions, dreams and the like ...
Since my youth I have been fascinated with the supernatural, UFOs, unexplained phenomena, mythology, witchcraft, bizarre religious practices, true crime, criminal psychology, mental illness, etc. I would read anything I could get my hands on regarding these strange subjects. Some people who are close to me have had some supernatural experiences (seen what they believed were ghosts, trafficked with spirits, etc.) and about 16 years ago, when I was fully immersed in the Black Metal lifestyle and burning with intense occult energy and extremely negative emotions, I personally I had a few powerful incidents that I could only describe as a combination of psychic vampirism, out of body experiences, and / or attempted possession… I have vivid memories of these occurrences and at the time they were rather frightening and made me believe for certain that there are indeed unseen forces at work in our world and that they need to be handled very carefully…
You have recently gone The Dead of Winter tour. I personally attended the Czech Bøeclav city show where you played with UNDERGANG and ESCAPE THE FLESH. How did you like this club? Do you remember even the evening? Was it your first visit to Europe in terms of FUNEBRARUM? What is your look at European fans? Can you see any differences between Europe and USA? What about European beers? Which ones you like the most?
Oh, cool! I hope that you enjoyed the show! Café Piksla was pretty cool. It was kind of small and the set up with the tables along the one wall was kind of an odd configuration though. A lot of the stages we played on during the tour were really small and cramped and Piksla’s was one of the tiniest, but we crammed ourselves up there somehow!! HAHA! More importantly I remember having a great time performing there. We sounded ok, performed well and got a great response from the crowd. After the show we were taken in for the night by some Czech maniacs and partied late into the night!! HAHA!! This was the first European tour for us, but we did play at the second Killtown Deathfest last September in Copenhagen. This was my fourth time performing in Europe as I had toured there before with ABAZAGORATH in 2004 and EVOKEN in 2009 also did the Roadburn Festival in Holland last year. European fans come across as much more dedicated than a lot of the fans here in the US. Not to say that there aren’t any die hard devoted metalheads over here, but they are more common over there. The fans there contribute a lot to the scene – volunteering at the venues, traveling far and wide to go to shows, etc. Metal isn’t so ingrained culturally in the States. Of course, there are many differences between the US and Europe, especially culturally or socially / politically. Furthermore, touring Europe is easier as you can go from one country to another without too much trouble. In the US, there are vast expanses where there are few major cities that can support good shows. I love trying different beers, so the tours give me a great opportunity to try local brands wherever we go. I like the Belgian, German and Czech stuff the best, but there were too many to pick just one favorite! I especially like how many of the venues have their own house brands on tap.
You are using two different logos for your releases, both are unique of course. Why do you have actually two logos? Some your photos are taken at a chapel. Could you say where you found it?
We have actually used not only two, but three different logos over the years! Back in the early days Daryl created one that we used on the demo, some t-shirts, “Beneath the Columns…” and “Dormant Hallucination” covers. After that Christophe Szpajdel created another logo that we used on some shirts, the split with INTERMENT and on the back cover of the “Beneath…” layout. At the time when Daryl was working on the artwork and layout for “The Sleep…,” he came up with another logo that blended some of the more appealing elements from the others as well as some new ones. I think this version is the one we will stick to for the foreseeable future. It was kind of cool to have different logos. Not too many other bands do that, NUN SLAUGHTER being the one that comes to mind. I believe the photos you are referring to are some that we took in 2007 at a local cemetery. They were taken in front of a receiving vault, some small mausoleums and a tower on the grounds.
It is a known thing you play even in other bands as ABAZAGORATH and EVOKEN, which play Black Metal and Funeral Doom styles. Essentially you are playing three different styles of extreme Metal. Can you feel all these genres the same or some one gives you more pleasure than any other? Which of your three bands you take most seriously?
Variety is the spice of life, they say, so I like to keep busy with different types of bands! I like all sorts of stuff, so it keeps things interesting for me. I like Black, Death and Doom pretty equally. I was more immersed in the BM scene in the 90s and I did get a lot more into Doom since 2008 when I joined EVOKEN. I take all of the bands equally seriously and as far as which band is the priority, this is based on which band is working on what at any particular time. For example, in the weeks prior to this past European tour, FUNEBRARUM was number one for a few weeks as we recorded the song for the tour 7” and needed to rehearse our live set. Upon returning, EVOKEN became my priority as we are finishing up recording and mixing the new album and had to practice for some gigs coming up in a few weeks. So it just goes along like that for me in trying to make time for each band. Sometimes it limits my time availability for one or two of the other groups while I focus on another, but I try to maintain as much balance as possible.
Ok, it would be all on my part. If I forgot something important, you have the last words. Thank you for this dark interview and wish FUNEBRARUM the deepest descent into the abyss of horror and fear. Horns UP!
Thanks, Mortuary! It has been a pleasure to be featured in “Necrosphere!” Look out for a new album to emerge later this year or in early 2013! In the meantime, we have a few shows lined up here in the States. Next Friday we will be opening up for gods AUTOPSY in Brooklyn which is AUTOPSY’s first New York show in 19 years! Our friends UNDERGANG will be coming over from Denmark to play that show as well. That one should be a total holocaust! In July we will be going out to Cleveland, Ohio to play a fest along with NECROPHAGIA, NUN SLAUGHTER, CIANIDE, etc. That’s another one that should be completely sick!! We have merch like shirts and patches available for sale. Check out our Facebook page for more details on available merch. Thanks to everyone who supports FUNEBRARUM and True Death Metal in general! Stay Dead!!
Dave Mortuary 26. 4. 2012