The Vault: Mistress of the Dead – White Roses, White Coffin

Funeral doom is a pretty stable niche in the field of doom metal, but it tends to turn away most of those who are more attuned to the driving force of bands like Bog Oak, or really anything with a tempo that doesn't move at a pace so slow half a chord progression takes a month.  That, however, can be aesthetically pleasing if done properly, creating the mood of degradation you need to listen to it instead of requiring said move before you even start.  Mistress of the Dead comes from the Czech Republic and is one of the more obscure acts in funeral doom, though in spite of his rather extensive discography he's relatively unknown outside of the underground and has almost zero presence online.  This was one we reviewed on the old site back in 2011.
The subgenre of 'funeral doom' was the natural progression, or perhaps degression, of the doom/stoner movement, but one that's still pretty marginal because it's depressing and slow as hell. To the point that you basically need to reduce your body to below freezing to grasp any of it. We actually did a review of three of Ea's releases in a Solitude Productions overview a month or so back, and this one fits right in there, with the exception that it totally trumps all of that. Funeral doom seems very difficult to pull off, so lethargic are its progressions and chord structures. To get any slower would just lead to a void of single-note dissonance or a heart that refuses to beat. Mistress of the Dead has somehow found a way to reach this point and made it a hell of a lot more interesting, providing hope this ill-begotten doom offshoot isn't just a step into a dark pit from which no one can ever leave.

 

 

White Roses, White Coffin has a really archaic, Victorian aesthetic. The sepia-toned artwork and usage of old cemetery photos inside gives it the kind of class only the most macabre of late 1800s children's post-mortem photos can muster. The basic approach sounds like an abandoned mausoleum filled with dying ghosts. A dark, ambient echo pervades, rebounding off of icy, stone walls, spreading around rusted iron grates, and pushing dust off of bones. It opens with "My Beloveth", which features an extended intro with jaded piano and keyboards, sparse guitar work, a short break, and then a total blast of death. This stuff is the definition of slooooooow with the extra 'o's' for flavor. The tempo is reduced to single high-hat, cymbal, and kick hits with powerful chords overlaying the whole that are often held so long they verge on feedback. The vocals are deep, penetrating, hollow roars well beyond what a living being is capable of producing, mixed with empty wails and howls like listening to a bunch of dead souls screaming away for eternity. There are only four songs here, but they're longer than purgatory.

 

White Roses, White Coffin also has a higher quality than most funeral doom. Some of the piano lines, for example, recall funeral marches like those of Purcell, old dirges, and antiquated, painfully depressing dances. Surprisingly, the formula doesn't tire itself out. Each track has its own form, though with a fairly similar structure, kind of like an old river after a huge flood. It's the same horrible, muddy, murky looking mass but with differing chunks of debris floating around, swirling and churning as they find the will. An ancient log comes to the top, crushing into the remains of a home, and then a corpse appears for a second and sinks to the bottom again. White Roses, White Coffin is completely enveloping as an album, stuff for the initiated only.

 

Mistress of the Dead Official last.fm

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Mistress of the Dead – White Roses, White Coffin
Epidemie Records
4.4 / 5