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Funerus - "Reduced to Sludge" (CD)

Funerus - "Reduced to Sludge" CD cover image

"Reduced to Sludge" track listing:

1. Behind the Door
2. Corroded
3. The Comfort in Depression
4. Bedpan Commando
5. Reduced to Sludge
6. Leatherface
7. Death of a God
8. Create/Destroy
9. Sound of Oil
10. Time of Death
11. E. Histolytica

Reviewed by on December 28, 2011

"'Reduced to Sludge' possesses gravelly tones that will leave its listeners feeling like they’ve been dragged face-first across hot asphalt."

Jill and John McEntee make up two-thirds of Funerus. Death metal fans recognize John McEntee for his work with legendary death metal act Incantation. What’s surprising about Funerus is that the group started in 1990, around the same time as Incantation. The trio hasn’t released nearly as many records, embarked on as many tours or garnered the same name recognition as Incantation. In a sense, Funerus is a newer band because they didn’t release a full-length recording until 2003, when the group issued “Festering Earth.” Shortly after said release, vocalist and second guitarist Brad Heiple left the group and John’s wife, Jill McEntee, took over vocal duties.

Down-sizing to a three-piece hasn’t affected Funerus in a negative manner. “Reduced to Sludge” reveals better song writing and production. The McEntees kept the gritty distorted sound of their debut, but each note is easier to make out, riffs leave a greater impression and there are slower segments. “Reduced to Sludge” leans toward the death/doom John McEntee creates in Incantation. Actually, much of the album recalls Incantation, from diabolic-ringing chords to low-end double picking. He plays relatively simple chords—Sam Inzerra’s drumming represents the most complex facet of the album. The simplicity of their rhythms and organic drum sound (no clickity-clack triggers) instills the album with an old-school death metal quality.

Fans of hyper blasting, amorphic, technical death metal need to look elsewhere. With “Reduced to Sludge,” Funerus keeps it simple, sick and slow. Besides a few parts found in songs such as “Create/Destroy” and “Time of Death,” the band sticks to a formula that rarely pushes beyond medium paces. “Sound of Oil” features a massive build-up, recalling acts such as Grave and Bolt Thrower. The chord progression on “The Comfort in Depression” and “Bedpan Commando” recall more Bolt Thrower, while the deep, double-picked guitar play on “Leatherface” and “Death of a God” are rooted in death metal’s pioneering acts, such as Death and Obituary.

Funerus’ deliberate tempos never become boring because the band knows how to transition. Hanging notes rise and fall to bring “Create/Destroy” in on a grand fashion. The group changes subtly and smoothly, blending ringing chords into busier sounds. Besides creating a guitar sound perfect for the song title, the title track goes through many changes, mostly of the sludgy/doomy sort. Each slow segment keeps the song from stagnating, and again transitions from skin-peeling, muffled riffing to dark, doom metal harmonies.

Fans of above-mentioned old-school acts will revel in “Reduced to Sludge.” “Reduced to Sludge” possesses gravelly tones that will leave its listeners feeling like they’ve been dragged face-first across hot asphalt. The only issue with “Reduced to Sludge” is Jill McEntee’s vocals. Her throaty, dry approach isn’t far removed from vocalists such as Johnny Hedlund (Unleashed) and Martin Van Drunen (Asphyx), but lacks their grotesque tones. She’s more interesting than Brad Heiple’s standard, deep growls and it’s easy to make out her words. However, her voice is not a large enough drawback to keep this album from being one of the top death metal albums of the year.

Highs: Dark, doomy harmonies, sludgy guitar tones

Lows: Jill McEntee's middle-range vocals.

Bottom line: "Reduced to Sludge" stands as one of the best death metal albums of the year.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)