Italian funeral doom maulers Fuoco Fatuo swim toward fury with mind-altering ‘Backwater’

Falling through an endless chasm, through space or some sort of mysterious void, not knowing if you’ll land. Or where you’ll land. Everything feels weighted down on your chest as you catapult through time and eras, unable to stop, unwilling to grab on for safety, and living in a reality that’s utterly terrifying because your destination is shrouded in mystery.

That’s kind of what it feels like tackling “Backwater,” the gargantuan new record from Italian funeral doom band Fuoco Fatuo. It’s a misery-inducing, disorienting experience, a collection of four really, really long dirges that feel like they grind you in place, but alas, you’re on a journey the entire time, falling and falling. It’s not that this band—guitarist/vocalist Milo Angeloni, guitarist Giovanni Piazza, bassist Andrea Collaro, drummer Davide Bacchetta—simply squeezes the hell out of you. No doubt they do that, but they also flow somber melodies and shadowy playing into their epics, keeping you on the edge of your seat and not sunken into the cushion. On this monstrous album, the follow-up to 2014 debut “The Viper Slithers in the Ashes of What Remains,” the band devastates you slowly and fluidly, taking you on a journey that could be deep space or far under the sea. Either way, you’ll freeze to death or suffocate.

“Sulphureous Haze” is your 15:53-long opener, a track that sits in foggy doom that spreads itself ominously before the lurching and growling gets more intense. The track erodes into a slow soot, with a torturous pace spreading out and the music feeling cavernous. Sorrowful melodies billow as leads bleed massively, the pace suffocates, and the noise hovers over the scene before bowing out in chaos. “Rainfalls of Debris” is even longer at 16:06, instantly launching a funereal pace that sifts into a dark mist. The growls wrench while the pace pounds, as the band continues to unload its fury, and massive heaviness pushes down with great might. As the song progresses, it slows down and becomes more mystical, rumbling and pulsating to the end.

“Perpetual Apochaos” is the shortest cut at 13:20, unleashing grinding growls and hanging noise in the atmosphere. The guitars chug and chew as the tempo gushes sorrow, while the song gets heavier and more aggressive. Guttural crunching and a totally devastating path crumbles into the void, disappearing into the cosmos. Closer “Nemesis” is the longest track at 16:55, as synth weirdness drifts over the madness and riffs bubble slowly. The vocals smear deliberately, as the sadness gets thicker and more oppressive, with sonic terror meted out. The melodies spin into loops, mesmerizing and hypnotizing, as the music burrows deep into the ground, and everything comes to a mind-altering end.

Fuoco Fatuo’s slithery, inky funeral doom should make you feel like you’re lost in the cosmos, in a never-ending free fall through weightlessness. “Backwater” is both brutal and mind-numbing, a record that should help you get lost inside its chamber of horrors. The detachment you’ll experience for an hour might induce panic in the claustrophobic or help those seeking a journey into the unknown expand their sense of morbid adventure.

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