Album Title: Hellfire and Funeral Bells
The production on this album is a little more crisp than the last, but it's still much denser than most. The rumbling bass and rhythm guitar provide plenty of low-end to complement the echoing vocals, while the cymbals and cutting lead guitar tone add counterpoint.
The songwriting here is even tighter and more effective than on Rising From Below the Earth: that record meandered just a little over its hour and ten minute length, but this one delivers six perfect slabs of eerie doom/death/black metal. There's a bit more of a classic heavy-metal touch on this one, as should be obvious once you hit the solo on "Hellfire & Funeral Bells", but I think it's a perfect complement to the stately, ominous riffing. Songs like "Convent of Earthly Delights" and "When the Wolves Howl for Blood" combine jaunty, arrogant guitars with utterly wicked vocals, to powerful effect... that filthy, rocking final minute of "Convent" is one of my favorite moments on the album. The cloying atmosphere of "Lost in the Forest of Suicide" paints a picture of hopelessness and terror, while "Dr. Karswell"'s lumbering pace and memorable heavy/doom guitar lines evoke the inevitability of evil. "Choir of Mentors" is a ten-minute epic which might just be the best thing on the record -- hear it once and its swaggering, dissonant riffs and brilliant lyrics will be stuck in your head for days. As always, Faustcoven's take on Satanism and the occult is far more intelligent than most; the lyrics sheet here is more than worth checking out (and could there be a secret message hidden within?)
This is easily Faustcoven's best record -- heavy, atmospheric, yet endlessly listenable -- and a strong contender for the best of the year. Fans of mid-to-slow-paced metal will worship this, along with those who still miss the first wave of Satanic bands from the 80s. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "Convent of Earthly Delights", "Dr. Karswell", "Choir of Mentors"