Japanese funerary doomsters Begräbnis have existed almost a decade at this point and have a handful of releases under their cloaked belts to date, but Izanaena is their first full length proper. The fact this is on long running cult underground label Weird Truth Productions should already peak the interest of those entrenched in the underground, and Izanaena keeps the label’s tradition of unearthing high quality misery alive.
Traditionalists at heart, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Begräbnis are very much colouring (in so much as one can ‘colour’ in shades of black) within the lines – this is the kind of slow motion, low innovation dirge that harkens back to the usual influences (Worship, Corrupted, etc) and doesn’t introduce anything staggeringly new to proceedings. That’s not to belittle the trio however, nor is it necessarily a bad thing in a genre based around being as dismal and monotonous as possible. The goal here is to invoke misery. Begräbnis do that in spades. Then use those spades to bury you.
Based around slow moving riffs that pass by at a glacial pace from one guitar, alternated with mournful melodies from the other, the core sound is rarely deviated from which gives exactly the kind of slowly suffocating aura this music needs. There’s an occasional ambient moment where the riffs subside to allow a brief glimmer of barely there synth, like a break in the clouds before an even bigger burst of torrential rain. Impressively though, the sheer oppressiveness of the basic formula doesn’t need much in the way of bells and whistles, although closer Nijigahara does introduce a ghostly acoustic passage that works wonders in the context of the song. The guitar tone is enormous, you can almost feel it physically pressing down on you at points, and the riffs, as sluggard as they are in the pacing department, are laced with a genuine air of sorrow.
Stripped down to the basic elements and completely without pretention, it actually lives up to the tag ‘funeral doom’ perfectly…
There are two secret weapons which add a distinct personality to the overall sound. First up, the band having dispensed with the services of a human drummer early in their career, rely on a drum machine. Rather than use it to simply mimic the beats and sounds an acoustic kit would produce however, the percussion it provides is more of a strange reverb laden knocking sound, perhaps meant to evoke someone who has been buried alive slowly, beating on a coffin lid six foot under in the vain hope of being discovered.
It is only on Mortuary Cannibalism that it’s utilised to equate anything like a traditional drummer. Secondly vocalist Fumika‘s delivery is more attuned to brutal death metal than doom, and her relentlessly gutteral approach is absolutely monstrous. She doesn’t venture off into gothic moaning, spoken word, monastic chanting or any other of the other variations some of her peers and predecessors do. She consistently issues a sound like an enormous drain emptying in Hell that most gore grind vocalists would be in awe of.
Considering each of the four songs is as lengthy as you might expect for the style (between nine and twelve minutes apiece), the whole thing actually flows well enough that it seems shorter. Izanaena is despondent, single minded showing that doesn’t break any boundaries, but a decent debut from a band who have mastered their own domain. Stripped down to the basic elements and completely without pretention, it actually lives up to the tag ‘funeral doom’ perfectly.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes