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Mournful Congregation is one of those bands in the Funeral Doom spectrum that has always brought something new to the funeral doom genre. They unlike other Funeral Doom bands do not hesitate in experimenting with something that the band or even the genre has never done before. Riding off the success the band achieved with their last LP, “The Monad Of Creation”, the band formally released their new album, “The June Frost” on the 19th of January this year.
“The June Frost” by Mournful Congregation once again depicts the experimentation by the band. Unlike the last album, which consisted of four mammoth tracks of unending darkness and relentlessness, this album, consists of eight tracks most of which are quite short in length considering that 2 tracks alone make up for almost thirty minutes while the album lasts for just over an hour.
The album starts off with “Solemn Strikes The Funeral Chime” and boy does it set up the atmosphere brilliantly. The sound of the church bell ringing away in the distance and church organs make for the perfect atmosphere. “White Cold Wrath Burnt Frozen Blood” follows and this is a seventeen-minute masterpiece, this is a force of depression to be reckoned with. Remember those mournful solos in Metallica’s instrumental, Orion? Much much of that is found here and it fits in with the atmosphere perfectly. Who knew Metallica would influence doom metal of all genres? :-P.
Coming back to the experimentation, the band has this time added many acoustic guitar interludes and also instrumentals. On the last album all the tracks lasted near fifteen to twenty minutes. This time around the band experimented with their song structuring too, with tracks of smaller length taking up majority of the album. These tracks do well with supporting the longer tracks of the album.
The guitar work is pretty good and is very melodic this time around with quite a good number of slow atmospheric solos doing the round. The vocals of this band are quite unique too. It is a sort of a cross between shrieks and guttural growls. There are occasional clean vocal sections and whispered growl sections too like on the other one of the good tracks on the album, “Suicide Choir”.
Funeral Doom is a genre that will not be liked by many when they here it first for it requires a lot of patience and concentration to understand the true beauty and the message a band tries to portray through it’s music. Funeral Doom is, as the saying goes “an acquired taste” but this album is quite easily one of the most accessible one’s I have heard in my life. This may be a boon for a band but for die-hard Funeral Doom fans like me it is not. The main reason for this being the fact that this album has not been able to create the atmosphere lesser known bands of this genre have. At times I feel that the band has tried a little too much on creating an atmosphere using acoustic guitars that it has lost it’s way, and that guitar tone at times doesn’t help quite a lot. The very lack of atmosphere, which should in fact be of primary concern to any doom band, is the primary reason why I’ve rated this release pretty low on my scale. Even though most of the tracks create no atmosphere or fell whatsoever, except maybe the first track a prime example that the band leaves no impression on the listener is when track numbers 3,4,5 and 6 pass almost unnoticed.
However there are times where the band creates an atmosphere almost effortlessly like on the opening track of the album and at near the seven-minute mark on the track “Suicide Choir”, but overall the signature “Funeral Doom Atmosphere” is non existent or maybe not as powerful and heavy enough as it should be.
This is certainly not the band’s best release, but however is probably the perfect album for some one to try out Funeral Doom. Hardcore fans of Funeral Doom should not have very high expectation but giving it a few spins is probably a good idea because it does have a few good tracks and a few moments of brilliance.
- Suicide Choir is my pick of the album.