The intent is there but the execution is lacking
The old school death metal sound has seen quite the resurgence over the past couple of years but, like so many of these kinds of reawakenings, the landscape has quickly become swathed in copycat acts which has effectively dampened the positive effects that could be gleaned from any nostalgia (or new found love) that the style might otherwise engender. While Funerus don’t do a hell of a lot to disprove this, they do have at least one thing going for them that many of their peers do not and that is a history that actually stretches all the way back to the style’s heyday, having originally formed in 1990.
The Funerus of 2012 is quite different to that of 1990, however, with the only original member being Jill McEntee (having traded her bass for the vocal slot), who is joined by husband John McEntee (who also plays guitars and sings for Incantation), as well as relative newcomer Sam Inzerra on drums. With the inclusion of the McEntee duo it isn’t too hard to understand why Funerus bears more than just a passing resemblance to Incantation at times but there are nods to other bands from the same era as well throughout the album’s relatively lean 34 and a half minute running time with a strong Bolt Thrower influence positively rearing its head during the album’s doomier moments.
Musically, Reduced to Sludge fluctuates between a heavily death metal oriented sound and a, well, sludgy doom sound frequently and with seamless ease. The thing oozes the old school and the pedigree of the members lends a certain level of credibility that might otherwise be lacking from younger acts that mimic the style. The band has got the sound down to a T, essentially, but while they may have nailed the aesthetics they have a long way to go as far as crafting consistently strong and interesting material.
Too often Reduced to Sludge will hit you with a great tune or two only to offer up something generic and uninspiring as a chaser which, in keeping with the analogy, tends to leave an unpleasant aftertaste. It’s not that the band has written a lot of bad material per se, but rather that there is a fair amount of it that just isn’t that interesting and comes across as far too safe and unadventurous. It’s quite a shame too because the vibe and the atmosphere the band has created is actually rather good and it really hammers in the down and dirty nature of their craft but, sadly, the song-writing is frequently unable to match it which stands in stark contrast to a band like, say, Hail of Bullets who is able to take that basic old school blueprint and craft something a lot more satisfying from it.
Reduced to Sludge is a decent enough album that is by no means a chore to listen to but it is also an album that lacks the necessary pull to make me want to rush back to listen to it again in a hurry.
(Ibex Moon Records)