Album review: Thergothon - Fhtagn nagh Yog-Sothoth (demo, 1991)
Its a strangely appropriate thing that this Finnish band, who effectively invented the sound now known as "Funeral Doom" (alongside a small handful of other bands from the same country, namely Unholy and Skepticism), which has sadly become somewhat watered down and predictable over the years as great ideas often do, managed to give birth to and violently abort their own creation at the same time with this almost unbelievable piece of pure aural blackness. With their demo, Thergothon created what I think is the greatest funeral doom recording ever made, and although there are plenty of other worthwhile recordings out there (their own debut album for instance) I still think that this demo is essentially the single most effective one.
Taking the already somewhat established idea of death metal riffs slowed down to a crawl and injected with sorrow filled melodies, this demo adds a huge cavernous ambience and heavy flanging effects on most of the sounds for a truly creepy, otherwordly feel. The final ingredient is one of the most bizarre, inhuman vocal sounds I've ever heard. Other bands pioneered this sound around the same time with their own unique approaches (Skepticism's church organ fueled funeral procession, Unholy's deranged psychedelia etc) but nothing else I've heard really compares to this. Although only four tracks long, all but the last are over six minutes so it doesn't feel too short despite being just a demo. The production is just great, the drums sound as if they are being played in a huge cavern underneath some terrible Lovecraftian ocean and the guitar sound is just sinister as hell. The added effect of heavy tape saturation on some available versions (mostly downloadable) does add to the atmosphere, later re-issues cleaned it up slightly but it still has the demo quality "tape" sound that gives it character and actually sounds quite good for a demo.
Every band out there calling itself "Funeral Doom" of the last 20-odd years owes its sound to "Fhtagn nagh Yog-Sothoth", and there's a solid bet that almost none of them are anywhere near as good as this.