Review: Funeral Winds – 333

Band: Funeral Winds
Album: 333
Origin: Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Osmose Productions

Old true black metal, as so prodigiously bestowed upon us by none other than Funeral Winds. Back to back records, back to back years and realized under a fresh blood pact with Osmose Productions. Since black metal’s humble yet nefarious second-wave blossoming, FW has been in the thick of the action. A true champion of the underground and a noble purveyor of the purest black art is Funeral Wind’s visionary, HCX (Hellchrist Xul). His discography, a collection of volumes to remind us of the fact that true black metal is real and that not too many are quite as agreeing with the essence of said form of art than he. On January 26, Funeral Winds will unveil its latest diabolical endowment in “333”.

Choronzon – the demon of dispersion and keeper of the abyss – the last obstacle to be faced in one’s quest for enlightenment. A legendary entity; one which Aleister Crowley claims to have so boldly summoned to his horror and dismay. For one to summon Choronzon, he must first be adept and then be willing to destroy his ego to achieve gnosis. Conceptual gold here, but does the music hold up to its brilliant theme?

When compared to Funeral Winds’ previous album, “Stigmata Mali”, “333” is a ghastly recording, nasty and wretched black metal that admonishes the polished aesthetic of its predecessor. Label debut in the books, now time to get back to the business of spreading evil in its purest form. From its unvarnished quality in product to HCX’s considerably more fiendish vocal contribution all the way down to its rather one-dimensional mix, a true throwback to BM’s simpler days is “333”. Everything we’ve come to love about Funeral Winds to be beheld in the definitive tracks: “Sovereign of Shadows” with its engaging alternations in tempo and “Ancient Wrath Unleashed” with its captivating melodic passages – a rare delving into the more soulful side of black metal for Funeral Winds.

All in all, probably the most wicked black metal album I’ve lain ears upon all year, but it’s business as usual for HCX. He’s always possessed an uncanny ability to tap into forces unseen, capture their energies and relay to us their sonic manifest with an unbridled level of sinister. “333” is certainly no exception. Upon Funeral Winds’ signing with Osmose, I expected an exodus from this particular realm of creativity into the sphere of what could be considered to be commercial or even mainstream. Should’ve known better! With “333” Funeral Winds take about three or four steps back into the shadows and deliver a genuinely proper and yes, a true black metal experience.

One of the most volatile demons, one malevolent black metal album. A well-put-together and an even more smartly imagined piece that evokes hate one minute, disgust the next and suspense all the way through. And HCX’s presence, like some unforgiving dark master of ceremonies, is truly something to behold. As always, his efforts offer so much more than just a perpetual onslaught of black metal gutturals. Real BM swagger and a truly menacing presence overall, but in service to the music rather than gleaming in the spotlight. Bestial! A celebration of true old black metal: primitive, intimidating and crafted with the worst of intentions. A fine return to form.

BMZ rating: 8/10