Ceremony can’t be accused of being a joyous record, tracing as it does themes of death and the rituals surrounding it.
Informed by the passing of von Hausswolff’s grandfather, it’s a funeral march as much as it is a memorial service. There is a lot of gloom here, both lyrically and musically, but the breadth of the listening experience justifies the effort.
The melodic piano and orchestral identifiers of von Hausswolff’s debut, Singing From The Grave, are almost entirely eschewed – while Ceremony does own much by way of melody, it is cloaked in grimmer matter than its precursor. Opener, ‘Epitaph Of Theodor’, and latest single, ‘Deathbed’, with its full-of-intent guitars, invite you in with a disquieting allure. The video for the latter, directed by von Hausswolff’s sister and starring her brothers, is certainly not one for the faint-hearted. At the 4:40 time-mark, Gothenburg’s eeriest finally chimes in. “Will you take back/take back/what you said?”, she sings in what could easily be a sonic sliver from Kate Bush’s The Kick Inside, so familiar is her high-pitched incantation. A minute later the vocals disappear, leaving the song’s remaining three minutes to wade through instrumental sinisteria.