Having released the The Unspoken Hynms-compilation earlier this year, Australian masters of funeral doom Mournful Congregation now have a new album proper ready for those of you who yearn for dark, oppressive doom metal.
Mournful Congregation is a band, whose members know that that all good things take time, and that is reflected in the track lengths on this album - there are only four tracks and the shortest is around twelve minutes long while the longest is thirty-three minutes long. If you are familiar with the genre of doom metal in general, and specifically funeral doom, this should be no surprise to you, as doom metal musicians tend to operate with downtempo paces, as result of which is naturally longer songs.
But there is more to this album than just slow songs. Well, obviously, there are some very slow tunes on this album, and I guess that The Book of Kings will constitute an excellent conversation starter for doom metal aficionados who wish to point out that there are actually different degrees of slowness in downtempo music. And, the at times extremely slow tempo on this album definitely is both one of its qualities and one of the factors of track length, but each track itself is also full of several passages and moves, and the compositions strike me as being both interesting and kind of complex, and this is also an important factor in song length. Especially the 33-minutes long title track takes the listener on a dark journey through several passages, all of which are equally depressive, but quite varied in texture and form; and this way, Mournful Congregation remind us that slow music can still be very interesting and varied.
Another quality to the tunes on this album is the emphasis on melody. Mournful Congregation make use of both melodic guitar leads and, even more so, of melodic guitar harmonies incorporated into the droning and oppressive doom metal riffs. In addition, guitar solos themselves are, not just very tasty, but also quite melodic and fit the overall sound of the album. The vocals are mostly growled, although sometimes moaned or chanted (as in the 12-minutes long mostly acoustic and mostly instrumental track 'The Bitter Veils of Solemnity', which has some vocals towards the end). Now, normally, I prefer clean vocals in doom metal, because they add a further melodic dimension, but in this case, the growls actually work perfectly.
Any fan of slow, depressive doom metal should definitely invest in this album, as The Book of Kings is the perfect soundtrack for the depressive autumn season this time of year; this is really music you can lose yourself in.
1. The Catechism of Depression
2. The Waterless Streams
3. The Bitter Veils of Solemnity
4. The Book of Kings