REVIEW:Funeral Wake – For the Forlorn Few [EP/2020]

Artist: Funeral Wake

Album: For the Forlorn Few – EP

There’s a very distinct sound when it comes to the type of deathcore that comes out of the Midwest. Simultaneously capturing the intense, suffocating heat and density of a midwestern summer while still doing justice to the bitter, chilling nature of the twenty-to-thirty-below-zero winters, deathcore that comes from that part of the country seems to pack a distinctive punch. This was abundantly true of now-defunct Dethrone the Deceiver—a band who morphed from brooding downtempo to blistering blackened deathcore before throwing in the towel almost two years ago. Funeral Wake is the next step in that saga—with many of the band’s core members reuniting to create something that captures all the complexity of Dethrone the Deceiver’s metamorphosis with added intensity, darkness and gloom. For the Forlorn Few is a devastating, dismal and dreary experience that uses everything from atmosphere to all-out aggression to hammer the listener six feet deep into their own early grave.

            Funeral Wake have coined a moniker describing their sound—“Midwest Misery”—and to say it fits would be an understatement. For the Forlorn Few is a grisly display of delectably blackened deathcore. Between the blistering speed from percussionist Andrew Blose and the skin-rending blend of technicality and atmosphere from guitarists Ben Sparks and Kenny Thompson, Funeral Wake let loose with a cavalcade of crushing instrumentation that refuses to let up. Lead single “Gutwrencher” alone was evidence of this, with Sparks’ leads blending beautifully with Thompson’s support and low, bouncy grooves from bassist James Kenzie. Other songs—“Into the Dark’—utilize less atmosphere and more outright aggression, hitting with one of the most dissonant, disastrous breakdowns of the year. Other songs, like “Hello From the Gutter,” or the record’s title track, see a more protracted and careful blend of ambience and aggression, all without sacrificing bitterness or brutality. Here, Sparks’ fretwork shines alongside Blose’s blistering percussion. Together, the duo craft an immense framework of deathcore musicianship that is neither repetitive nor generic, forced or phoned in. Funeral Wake feature just enough nostalgia to keep the listener engaged, but not enough to cash in on the hype of “bringing back ‘08” that’s taken focus of late.

            Where Funeral Wake continue to separate themselves from the pack is with the vocal element from frontman Isaac Bilbrey. Bilbrey’s voice is, in a word, haunting—home to an immense range and incredible endurance that keep fans of just about any subsect of heavy music engaged. “Gutwrencher” is perhaps his catchiest track on For the Forlorn Few, where “Into the Dark” or “A Lamb Entombed” are easily his most dynamic and impressive. Bilbrey boasts a sprawling display of highs, lows, grisly bellows and piercing shrieks that are reminiscent of the range found from some of the underground’s rising stars—yet with the entirety of his range sounding distinctly his own, without trying to mimic the sound or style of anyone else. In this way, Bilbrey’s vocal work encapsulates the entirety of Funeral Wake’s dynamic, uncompromising in being unique while still familiar and accessible—all, of course, while being absolutely obliterating.

            For the Forlorn Few has been a long time coming for those who were wise enough to pay attention to Funeral Wake early on. Ruthless from start to finish, technically impressive and loaded with atmosphere, this Michigan-based act have revitalized the state’s reputation for raw, riveting deathcore. Prodigally young, immensely talented and thoroughly uncompromising, Funeral Wake have crafted an immensely bleak, grisly and gloomy release that keeps the listener thoroughly immersed and refuses to let up for even one second—something many accomplished bands within the genre still struggle with years after their debut.


For Fans Of: Lorna Shore, Crown Magnetar, A Wake in Providence, To the Grave

By: Connor Welsh