I guess that Funeral from Norway do not need any special introduction to all those that have even a basic relationship with the Doom Metal stuff. They have been around the scene since 1991 and especially the releases of their first period -I am referring to their "Tristesse" 1993 demo and "Tristesse" Mini CD (1994), their 1994 "Beyond All Sunsets" demo and their 1995 "Tragedies" Mini CD- are now marked as absolute classics. Well we can sure mention Funeral as one of the very first bands that have played Doom / Death Metal and Funeral Doom Metal. The unique atmosphere of their songs, their very slow almost tombstone riffing, the acoustic interludes and bridges, the growling and the female vocals are musical elements that have marked somehow the specific genres.
"To Mourn Is A Virtue" is actually the missing link between the classic albums ´Tragedies"(1995) and "In Fields Of Pestilent Grief" (2002). This album is based on unreleased demo-recordings ,and contains nine previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1996 and 2004, remastered in 2010, almost 15 years after the moment they were initially recorded in the studio.
For the story we must point that the band have used the title "To Mourn Is A Virtue" for their 1997 Demo, they actually went to England and recorded ten tracks at Academy Studios without vocals (because of lack of a vocalist), soon the band recruited Sarah Eick as their female vocalist and finished five of the ten tracks, resulting in "To Mourn Is a Virtue" . Well on the Solitude Production album release of 2011 we can find two remastered tracks from this era ("Wrapped All In Woe" in the original version but now remastered and "Your Pain Is Mine" in a new version). Focusing more into the album we will be able to discover some more Funeral material that first shows the light of the day through this 2011 release.
There are for sure some great and outstanding songs included in this release for example the opening track "Hunger", the follower "God?" and of course the magnificent "Poison" song which is one of the best pieces of music included in this album together with the epic and melancholic "Father".
Musically the stuff included in this release fits greatly in the musical path that Funeral have followed mainly from their 2002 album and later -no matter the fact that here we got some earlier stuff re presented- . If you are familiar with the clean male vocals, the atmospheric keyboard fillings, the melodic interludes and the Doomy riffing that are now big trademarks of Funeral then you would love this 2011 release and you would realize that the band was working on the musical style that have marked their entire -2002 and above- second period, even from the mid 90s.
You would feel like home if you have introduced to the Funeral's music by the "From These Wounds" album of 2006 which is the best album in the band's second period. You would be able to meet all the dark and melancholic majesty of this great band presented in the nine songs of "to Mourn Is A Virtue" release.
Although that I was somehow prepared to hear more stuff in the vein of the band's first period -more old school Funeral Doom or Doom Death Metal sound with some good female vocals as this is my personal favorite era of funeral, I can point that I was very satisfied with this stuff as well. A good idea would be the entire re release of all the 1994 ("Beyond All Sunsets"), the 1997 ("To Mourn Is A Virtue") and 1999 ("The Passion Play") tapes featuring the original track listing and a possible remaster, perhaps the band and Solitude Productions can think about this.