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I would be lying if I said that funeral doom was my favorite style of doom. Sure, I love disEMBOWELMENT(the sounds precursor) and dig Thergothon, Evoken, Ahab, etc. But I am not particularly wild about the super slow, simplistic riffing and over-wrought atmosphere most funeral doom bands peddle. How so many bands can stretch three individual riffs over twenty minute songs is a mystery to me. And how unlucky for me that Mournful Congregation happen to be one of those bands.
The Book of Kings is well over an hour long, yet has no more than a dozen riffs sssssttttttrrrrreeeeettttcccchhhheeeeddd over it's incredible run-time. Your average Morbid Angel song has more riffs than this album, which is pretty impressive for both bands when you think about it. But who said it was about quantity? It's all about the quality right?
Much like the number of riffs, the quality here is lacking to say the least. Melodic intros lead into soft and... melodic riffs that crawl at a snails pace against the backdrop of bells and moans. Mournful Congregation have thrown musicianship and songwriting out the window here, and are putting all of their collective eggs into the "atmosphere" basket. The production is thick and inviting, and is by far the best part of The Book of Kings. It also helps that the pointless vocals are mostly lost underneath the strength of the guitars and the fuzz of the bass.
This is a war of attrition: how many minutes can you listen to the same riff, with the same melodic lead over the top of it, and the same bells in the background? I get the point of is all. The music is meant to hypnotize the listener, transfix them, until the fall into the waves of sound. Yet The Book of Kings failed to have anything close to this effect, and with so many superior alternatives abound in a genre not lacking in practitioners, it becomes increasingly hard to justify spending over an hour with this album. Where is the adventure? Where is the song-writing? The Book of Kings fails so miserably because instead of using the genre as a jumping post to greater ideas, it instead falls into funeral doom's biggest trap: incredible and relentless boredom.
Hardcore fans of funeral doom are sure to enjoy The Book of Kings. It follows every single genre convention to a T, never leaving the well trodden paths laid out by their forefathers in anyway. If that sounds incredibly boring to you, go ahead and just skip this one all together.
originally posted at http://curseofthegreatwhiteelephant.blogspot.com/