Funeral Frost operated in the early days of the Swedish Black Metal scene, being formed in 1993. Their two demos and promo eventually led to the release of the 1996 debut album ‘Queen of Frost’, but somewhere after that the band faded into obscurity. Seemingly, the band had been lost and forgotten amongst the second wave of Scandinavian Black Metal. Until 2021, when a re-release of their sole full-length album including their 1994 ‘Midnight Speeches’ and 1995 ‘Demo 2’ demos was released by Werewolf Records on CD, and on vinyl in 2023.
You may wonder how an obscure Swedish release made it to the roster of one of the top labels for Finnish Black Metal but there are a few arguments to be made. For one, based on the rather Finnish names of the members such as Forn Paananen and Pasi Viitasalo, some ties to Finland can be expected. But above all, the music made by Funeral Frost has more in common with the Finnish scene than that of the Swedish neighbours. This mostly manifests itself in a thorough sense of melancholy, but there’s also something to be said for a more Grind-oriented touch to especially the drumming on ‘Queen of Frost’, something that was always a little bit more infused in the Finnish scene through for instance the earliest works of Impaled Nazarene. The drumming on the record is particularly dynamic, and the album is much more diverse and ever-changing than a lot of the trademark blasting Swedish Black Metal sound. Sure, at times the band does sound like ‘Those of the Unlight’ era Marduk (such as in ‘Diamond Sword’), but otherwise has marginal resemblance to said scene.
The sound on the band’s full length is quite drum oriented, although the piercing vocals take an equally prominent role in the mix next to the sharp guitars and even some bass can be heard plodding in the background. This all leads to a relentless dynamic vortex of violence and melancholy. But the band certainly has a depressive touch as well, in particular in the somewhat lower paced tracks towards the end of the record. As a bonus, the album concludes with an alternate version of ‘Towards a Gate’, a song originally featured on their first demo. This song lasts about 40 seconds and further emphasizes the Grindcore associations that sometimes inevitably pop up when listening to ‘Queen of Frost’.
Continuing with the second vinyl, side A continues with the ‘Midnight Speeches’ demo. This side of the vinyl contains six tracks, of which five originally appeared on the demo. Two out of these made their way to the album, thus offering a few additional exclusive tracks to the re-release. Stylistically, the music isn’t far off from the album, though you can argue the Grind influences aren’t nearly as audible on the demo. Maybe that is because the sound is a tad more raw and Lo-Fi, but since we’re dealing with a 1994 released demo it sounds very decent altogether. Side A ends with an uncredited instrumental track that arguably has some of the best riffs on this release and provides a welcome addition to the record. On side B we find the second demo of the band, of which all but one song made it to ‘Queen of Frost’. Again, the recordings are a bit cruder and the versions on the full-length sound better balanced, but for completion’s sake it’s obviously interesting to find both demos accompanying the album.
Funeral Frost was one of those bands whose releases may have gained some small interest, but their name was never etched into the annals of Black Metal history. Whatever the reason, ‘Queen of Frost’ certainly sounds like an album that could have gained some more attention. By no means a forgotten classic, but the music is certainly well worth hearing and should be appreciated by the devoted worshippers of ancient Scandinavian Black metal.