Skepticism - Farmakon review
01. The Raven And The Backward Funeral
02. Shred Of Light, Pinch Of Endless
03. Farmakon Process
Any fan of doom, especially funeral doom, should be familiar with Skepticism already. Hailing from Finland, these pioneers of the genre have managed to craft another opus with their 3rd full length, Farmakon. Farmakon is a word derived from the Greek word pharmakos, meaning medicine... but not just any medicine. Given the intoxicating sick atmosphere (especially as indicated by the track "Farmakon Process"), we're led to believe this is a deadly sort of medicine... poisonous...
For those who aren't familiar with Skepticism, they play in only 2 tempos: slow and even slower. I'm not kidding. On their fastest moments, they don't even reach a midpaced speed. The rhythm section is composed solely by drums, as they have no bass guitar at all (one would expect this to hurt the music, but, amazingly enough, it doesn't), and they pound slowly but precisely, at times reminding you of tribal drums, at times going in a more chaotic direction with the heavy use of cymbals. The guitarwork comes in either an oppressive way (without being distorted noisily) or with a melodic approach, with a more gentle distortion. The vocals are a very interesting feature, as they're delivered in the form of a hardly intelligible ominous low growl/whisper and they sound very grim, combining perfectly with the dark soundscapes created by the instruments. Last, but not least, there's the keyboards, which are -like in every Skepticism release- used heavily here, be it as an organ, string ensemble, ambient effects or even as a horn (see the "Untitled" track). The keys manage to weave a contradicting suffocating and serene atmosphere. At times creepy, at times majestic, they play a very important role in the band's music. As for the production, it has a somewhat raw, though pretty clear, feeling to it, giving an extra dose of heaviness and knowing when to make the guitar stand out and when to emphasize the keys.
The gradually louder organs of "The Raven and the Backward Funeral" announce the beginning of your epic and intensely visual journey through the darkness of Skepticism's music... there are suffocating atmospheres with moments of melodic "bliss", songs that get increasingly more intense or chaotic, soul-tearing emotional and hopelessly despondent riffs and even some experimentalism (with "Untitled" and its heavy breathing sounds, maniacal laughters and horns)... all then fading back into silence, into "Nothing" (couldn't be a better name for an album closer!)... leaving you with an urge to go for another spin.
Still, though, I'll refrain from giving these Finns a 10 here, because I believe they can do something even better, as it's been proved with their classics The March and the Stream and Chorale (both from the Ethere EP). Of course, when their next album will come, nobody knows...
If one hour of pure slow bleakness, full of keyboarding and devoid of any catchiness or happiness doesn't put you off, this album is for you.
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