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Known for their pessimistic outlook and their dark, brooding, morbid lyrics, Funeral have been closely identified with the European school of doom metal and are also quite relevant to gothic metal. The Norwegian band's approach to doom metal is not as Black Sabbath-obsessed as Candlemass (one of doom metal's pioneers) or the underground agitators Grief; their musical perspective is much more gothic, and the European outfits that Funeral (not to be confused with an early-'80s band that had the same name) have been compared to the most include Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. Comparisons to Theatre of Tragedy and Lacuna Coil have also been made.
Funeral's original lineup was formed in 1991 and included drummer/guitarist Anders Eek and guitarist Thomas Angell. Bassist Einar Frederiksen, formerly of a thrash metal outfit called Anti-Chord, joined Funeral in 1993, when they recorded their first demo, Tristesse; that demo employed Eek on drums, vocals and guitar, Angell on guitar and Frederiksen (b. 1973, d. 2003) on bass and vocals. Later that year, guitarist Christian Loos was added to the lineup — and in 1994, Funeral hired female vocalist Toril Snyen to sing lead. Snyen was heard on Funeral's next demo, Beyond All Sunsets, as well as their first full-length album, Tragedies, which was released by Arctic Serenades (a small Norwegian label). Snyen ended up being fired, and from the mid-'90s to the early 2000s, Funeral went through more than their share of lineup changes. Another female lead singer, Sara Eick, was hired in 1997, but she quit the band after several months and was replaced by yet another female lead singer, Hanne Hukkelberg (b. 1979, Oslo, Norway) in 1998 (Hukkelberg went on to record as a solo artist after leaving Funeral). In the early 2000s, founding member Angell left and was replaced by Idar Burheim (who later left Funeral for the Norwegian black metal band 1349 and started calling himself Archaon). For Funeral, some tragic events in the early 2000s mirrored the sorrowful, depressing nature of their lyrics. The first major tragedy that Funeral suffered came when longtime bassist Frederiksen committed suicide in 2003, ten years after he had joined the band. After Frederiksen's death, Funeral were inactive for about a year and a half; some fans feared that the band would dissolve. But in 2004, Funeral decided to carry on, and their first post-Frederiksen lineup included Eek on drums, Loos on guitar, Frode Forsmo (who has also performed with the band Minas Tirith) on lead vocals, Jon Borgerud on keyboards and Kjetil Ottersen (who had been playing keyboards for Funeral) on guitar. Then, in 2006, another tragedy occurred when Loos was found dead in his home. But Funeral kept going and recorded their album, From These Wounds, which included Eek, Forsmo, Ottersen and guitarist Mats Lerberg. Candlelight released From These Wounds in the United States in March 2007.