The history of Black Metal has been told ad infinitum. We know that groups like Venom, Posessed, Mercyful Fate and Sarcofago planted the seeds that stretched like a dark vine across Europe and taking hold in Norway. By now, we all know the story of groups like Darkthrone and Mayhem, but lesser known is the story of Old Funeral.
The band was formed in 1988 in Bergen, and was gone by 1992. Ironically, despite Old Funeral being in fact, a Death Metal band, they became the Rosetta Stone for what became Black Metal in Norway.
During it's fleeting existence, Old Funeral was where key figures in the scene first cut their teeth. Most notably, Harald Nævdal (Demonaz of Immortal), Olve Eikemo (Abbath of Immortal) and the infamous Kristian 'Varg' Vikernes, later of Mayhem, Burzum and Trondheim Prison.
Our Condolences is essentially a collection of the bands history in its entirety.
Tracks 1-7 represent the 1988 demo The Fart That Should Not Be, demonstrating clearly a band in its infancy. Immature in both sound quality and execution, this first sojourn nonetheless shows the potential of all involved. "The Day Of Judgement" and the laughably titled "Grandma Is A Zombie" are the standouts here.
Filling the void between each formal release are collections of live tracks with the quality ranging from the worst 80's metal bootlegs you can name to damn good - the latter being the inclusion of "Devoured Carcass" live in 1991. It sounds every bit as brutal as it should with a richer sound than anything you'll hear on Mayhem's Live At Liepzig.
Up next is the 1990 Abduction Of Limbs demo and man, what a difference 2 years can make. Every track here is pure rotted gold. Despite almost all of the members still in their teens, the level of maturity in the songwriting is quite astonishing.
The Devoured Carcass e.p. follows and it's here where you can see the paradigm shift. While the guitars maintain their deathlike stance, the vocals, courtesy of drummer/vocalist Padden take on somewhat of a blackened tone. Again, the growth is evident in tracks like "Haunted" and the title track.
Finally, are some of the last recorded tracks of the band's brief history and if the sad irony is that the strength of tracks like "Into Hades" and "Forced to Be Lost" shows a band just beginning on its trajectory and far from a band about to dissipate in the ether.
7.8 / 10
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