Michael W. Ford from Houston, Texas has long been the creative force behind Black Funeral, a long running act within the USBM scene. Founded in 1993, Black Funeral have released nine full-length albums over the years, including their latest Ankou And The Death Fire, which is being issued by Dark Adversary Productions.
Black Funeral is mostly the product of Ford, although a few session musicians have appeared from time to time. Very little changes from one Black Funeral album to the next as Ford’s music is characterized by tremolo picking overlaying blastbeats and rasped vocals. The production is very thin, tough, and is a key element, giving Black Funeral plenty of atmosphere and a sense of spookiness.
What separates Black Funeral from other USBM bands with a similarly thin sound, such as Xasthur, is a very keen sense of melody deeply buried within the riffing. The melody is muted, but still manages to emerge from the thin guitars as the riffing is usually high pitched.
Black Funeral’s choice of subject matter is also very important, being a romantic exploration of the occult rather than focusing on suicide or despair, which are common themes in similar sounding acts. The romanticism lends to the atmosphere and affords the music a certain beauty.
This combination of melody, atmosphere, and a romantic outlook gives Black Funeral a certain uniqueness, although low-fi black metal probably peaked within the USBM scene more than ten years ago. Hardly any USBM bands of note are still playing this style, either having gone defunct or having moved on.
Black Funeral refuse to change in a substantial way, and yet still manage to sound fresh and interesting with infrequent releases such as Ankou And The Death Fire.
(released September 9, 2016 on Dark Adversary Productions)