What’s in a name? As far as album titles go, The Light is pretty suggestive. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s something positive. Instead, the band name is much more telling. FVNERALS play the kind of music that bring to mind exactly that. The Light is sparse, evocative, and ethereal. Comparisons to artists such as Chelsea Wolfe are entirely appropriate. The only light on display here is that which we allegedly go towards at the very end.
The music on The Light is the kind that forever shimmers just out of reach, like a half-seen ghost at night. There is an undeniable structure to the songs, yet at the same time, they seem to drift in a haunting, cinematic style. The guitars are sparse, avouring individual notes as much as chords, whilst the drums are used sparingly, and are all the more powerful for it – think of the drumming on the more recent records by Earth for a good comparison. Meanwhile, there are occasional hints of synths adding to the atmosphere, but it’s Tiffany’s vocals that really complete the package. Placed largely in the background, their sung-spoken nature gives them the feel of something private, as if the listener has stumbled upon some private confession that no other ears should be party to. Taken together, it means that the music on The Light is undeniably chilling, and on the rare occasions when the band apply some volume,it is all the more powerful and effective. After all, this is an album that is heavy in an emotion or atmospheric sense, rather than from the band turning all their amps up to 11.
But these strengths are also the weakness of The Light. It is not, in truth, an album to really listen to, but more one to drift over you, subtly taking over your thoughts. If there was ever an album to be played at 3am, deep in the darkest pools of doubt and fear, this is it. I also have little doubt that this is the way the album is intended to be listened to. To criticise the album for feeling overly sparse and a bit repetitive at points seems, to me, to miss the point. It is a record that is all about the mood it evokes, and that mood is something utterly bleak, yet oddly life-affirming.