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Album after album the doubt becomes less and less permitted, death-doom metallers of Mourning Beloveth have to constitute one of the most unfunny bands ever. Though some fugitive smile has never been against the laws of doom (to go to the extreme I've always wondered how anyone could have taken Reverend Bizarre seriously), though Irish people are usually assumed to be somewhat cheerful, it’s always sounded like this act is willing to negate those both facts. The black-and-a-tad-only-white artwork is minimal, culminating in the close-up picture of a man injecting himself – what, exactly? heroin? cyanide?, the lyrics as may be guessed all deal with drugs and sickness, there’s a total of five tracks for almost one hour of music... do we need to add more? No thanks, guys, we’ve all understood doom has to be taken seriously.
Perhaps surprisingly at first given the overall concept, the music isn’t sick or twisted by any mean. It is, on the contrary, horrendously straightforward and austere. Crushing doom riffs endlessly followed by crushing doom riffs for fifty-six minutes, with almost no blank between the tracks so someone only remotely paying attention is most likely to miss the switch from one song to the other. It’s also noticeable that, in spite of their respectable lengths, those barely show any intro, the central Primeval Rush being the exception with its gloomy opening acoustic bars. The opener especially begins abruptly on some monstrous riff – just as the closer will end even more abruptly, letting the listener totally stupefied. Again, it’s been nearly one hour where only a few seconds of relief had to be found. The extremely clear production doesn’t help matters, it makes them worse. Every instrument will show a pure, unadulterated sound, including the bass playing such a crucial part. No keyboard of course, it’s so obvious I almost forgot mentioning it. Thus the production virtually doesn’t add any atmosphere, any emotion. In fact, you just have to realize THIS ALBUM DOESN’T CONVEY ANY KIND OF EMOTION.
This may sound as an odd statement, as it’s often nothing but a crippling flaw. Here, this is the essence of the work. Mourning Beloveth will slowly crush, grind and suffocate its poor listener without any sympathetic look, without a single faster heartbeat. It’s efficient, systematic, methodical – to come back to the concept, medical. The most remarkable here is the guys don’t need any particular trick to reach their goal: no particularly down-tuned guitars, no particularly cavernous growls, and a pretty standard, almost upbeat tempo for a doom recording. The power resides in simplicity, in simplicity only, simplicity and austerity. Consider this, the first acoustic guitar will only timidly show up as late as the third track, when twenty minutes have already elapsed. In a previous review I had referred to Mourning Beloveth as a rather timeless band. This is still true with this album, which could easily have been recorded ten years ago without anyone noticing the difference, and will probably sound equally topical in ten years.
Besides the songwriting is also MUCH stronger than on its predecessor which tended to drag on a bit especially with its useless interlude in the closing track, and on which every song sounded more or less similar. Granted, there still isn’t any stylistic difference between the five tracks here, but each of them nonetheless shows its own powerful main riff as well as its own distinct personality: The Burning Man for instance will focus more on bass or acoustic bars, Primeval Rush has this weird whispered part and the opener features some lead guitars which could almost be dubbed melodic. Besides it no longer sounds LENGTHY. When you can hardly breathe your time perception becomes somehow twisted, and it has to be true for mental suffocation as well.
I’ll admit into such a carefully built work of deconstruction (to echo the lyrics of the opening track) the clean voice is a bit of an issue. I’m not pretending the growls, in which most vocals consist in anyway, are godly by any mean, but they nonetheless complement the music perfectly in sounding as harsh as emotionless. I’m not pretending Mourning Beloveth should totally get rid of clean vocals either, as in such case their metal might become a bit too hard to swallow; however from the first day I discovered the band these kind of melodramatic whinings have bugged me, and still do nowadays. Who could even think their affected emotion, in the worst sense of the term, would fit on a terrifically emotionless record?
Indeed, this may be the release which changed my view on Mourning Beloveth I had so far considered as a not too original death-doom band with good ideas for sure, but failing a bit in the execution. This, on the contrary, is a very strong output. It’s primarily for listeners already familiar with the genre for sure, and it does take some time to get into, but the reward is worth the effort. Also, listening to only a couple of tracks doesn’t make any sense; it's the entirety or nothing.
But now guys, how about relaxing a bit and have a beer?
Highlights: The Sickness, Primeval Rush
It is ironic to be reviewing a band that makes Swallow the Sun and Draconian seem...well, light by comparison. The two aforementioned bands are the current doom metal darlings of the underground press and both have promising careers ready to take off for them. But comparing them to Mourning Beloveth is like comparing beer to absinthe; I love them both, I really do, but the latter is just so much more potent. The same with MB. A relatively small dose of their crushing doom styling has the same effect as a much, much larger dose of the other two synth-drenched outfits. Mourning Beloveth forego soprano female vocals, symphonic keyboards and progressive clean passages to serve up a hellish and pitch-black remedy for your happiness.
Taking for example the opening track, The Sickness. Beginning with the monstrous riffs and piledriving-but-ever-so-deliberate drumming that typifies this album, and soon assaulting you with completely horrible but completely effective growls, the track eventually allows you the reprieve of a clean vocals section. But there is no breathy, harmonious singing here, no gentle break before the guitars come back. The guitars stay there the whole time, as relentless as ever, whilst the clean vocals are if anything even more disturbing than the growls. Guitarist Frank Brennan is an extremely talented singer, unleashing a jarring cacophany of wails that will set your skin crawling and wishing the dirty growls would seep back. Which, inevitably, they do. A high point of this particular song is where, sometime after the six-minute mark, an atmospheric and somewhat cleaner guitar loop kicks in that perfectly complements Darren Moore's grunts and serves as an understated climax to the tragic mood of the song.
The near-thirteen minute centrepiece Primeval Rush is another standout, with a gentle intro that is the first real respite from the savage and carefully paced onslaught of the previous twenty-odd minutes; soon you are soaked with burning doomlike riffs and distant spoken-word vocals that draw you yet further into the singularly unpleasant but irresistible experience that you are having by this point. Primeval Rush really gets going at about the eight-minute mark. The quality of a good band is knowing when to undermine your expectations; despite the disturbing nature of the music on here, we know what to expect by this point, right? Wrong. After a grumbling bass motif, an urgent, more rapid and utterly undeniable collection of riffs begin that build to a double-bass climax and most importantly demand your attention if it was waning. The thrilling drumming by Timmy Johnson also deserves a mention here. The song, perfectly timed and paced, then stomps angrily to its end. If this doesn't get the hairs on your forearms tingling, it's time to go right back to those old Anathema discs from the '90s and start over.
While I haven't gone into them in the same depth, the remaining three songs maintain the mood and quality of the disc admirably, with particular moments of The Burning Man possessing a gentle quality that still has the band simmering to be back to their huge wall of sound that characterises 'A Disease For The Ages'. Meanwhile the closer Poison Beyond All builds and builds - including a riff two thirds in that seems teasingly as if to reprise the melody of The Sickness - , only to leave the listener with an abrupt ending that is all the eerier for the lack of closure: like a premature death or a dream that fled.
One of the things that makes the music of Mourning Beloveth so impressive is the fact that they retain the founding principle of genre-pioneers Black Sabbath; Tony Iommi created the band's sinister sound having seen how many people queued up to frighten themselves watching a horror movie at the cinema. MB have created a truly ghastly, monumental piece of music that really excels in its field without having to resort to experimentation or genre-splicing...and it will really scare you. Don't expect any violins or romantic lyrics, but if you, like me, have an ongoing love affair with such bands as My Dying Bride and early Anathema, this album will have possessed you after one, maybe two spins. If you're already a follower of the Irish kings, you know what you have to do.
Three years after the release of A Murderous Circus, which also appeared on German label Grau Records, the Irish dogs of doom return with their fourth album, A Disease For The Ages. Recorded in Bavariaâ€™s Studio E with Markus Stock of Empyrium and The Vision Bleak renown on the mixing desk, A Disease For The Ages offers five substantial portions of weighty and ponderous doom metal spread over 56 minutes.
The album opens with the 13-minute epic â€˜The Sicknessâ€™, with the twin guitars of Frank Brennan and Brian Delaney calling and responding the songâ€™s mournful riff to each other and Darren Moore belting out the vocals in a bellicose growl which attests to his previous employment history in the death metal band Morphosis. Mooreâ€™s voice is intriguingly counterpoised against the soaring, vibrato-rich clean vocals of Frank Brennan, which bring a glorious flourish of chivalric grandeur and 70s retro to the proceedings, sounding something like Dave Byron from Uriah Heep. Markus Stockâ€™s production really puts some oomph into the guitars, yet offers sufficient space for new bassist Brendan Roche, who replaces Adrian Butler, to make his presence felt.
â€˜Trace Decayâ€™ is more depressive and grinding than â€˜The Sicknessâ€™, with the earlier songâ€™s clean guitar fanfares replaced by a solid barrage of distorted riffs, though Frank Brennanâ€™s vocal cords still get a workout. Morbid, obsessive and remorseless, â€˜Trace Decayâ€™ will blot out the light and extinguish all hope. The albumâ€™s standout track â€˜Primeval Rushâ€™ provides some blessed respite with its softly strummed, introspective guitar intro, yet once the drums and death vocals kick in, you know itâ€™ll all end badly. Despite the title, this song is in absolutely no rush at all, primeval or otherwise, extending itself over the best part of 13 minutes, although beginning around the 7â€™ 45â€ mark, thereâ€™s a section of Metallica-style choppy riffing which ups the tempo and reminds the listener of Mourning Belovethâ€™s death metal roots, a point underlined by the emphatic double bass drum work which kicks in at 10â€™ 26â€.â€˜Primeval Rushâ€™ is crossfaded into the carefully modulated feedback and minatory bass line which open â€˜The Burning Manâ€™, before the phalanxes of guitar align themselves for yet another crushing pincer movement â€“ slow and implacable, the songâ€™s forward momentum brooks no resistance. Hoarsely shouted vocals underpin the death growl, and thereâ€™s a return to the clean sung vocals which were absent from â€˜Primeval Rushâ€™. A quiet melodic interlude at around the six-minute mark demonstrates Mourning Belovethâ€™s well-developed grasp of the power of restraint and reticence in place of all-out brutality, although they can pour on the power when they want to. Closing track â€˜Poison Beyond Allâ€™ ladles out the pomp and circumstance of the opening track, with muffled and sinister spoken word vocals injecting an air of claustrophobic threat, although this song seems a bit too similar in tone and tempo to the previous one, and it definitely isnâ€™t the albumâ€™s highlight.
More grandiose and bombastic than many more downâ€™nâ€™dirty doomsters, Mourning Belovethâ€™s use of two vocalists and disciplined yet technically progressive song structures bring a fresh twist to a genre which is all too often rigidly formulaic. With A Disease For The Ages, Mourning Beloveth have produced a very strong contender for best doom release of the year. Anyone who enjoys the work of Daylight Dies and Evoken will most likely already be aware of Mourning Beloveth, but if not, then check this album out, itâ€™s more than worthy of your attention.
This review was originally written for Judas Kiss webzine:
Mourning Beloveth- A Disease For The Ages
Rare is it to find a Death/Doom band that fits both those tags fully rather than taking the easy option of adding death growls to the dirge, the road taken by the likes of Officium Triste and Swallow The Sun. Not only does vocalist Darren’s spitting of the suffocating (and often horrifically brutal) lyrics, redolent of his past in Irish Death Metal legends Morphosis, prove their salt as a Death Metal band but it augments their melancholy Doom stomp. Also listen out for the double kick towards the end of the album’s standout track “Primeval Rush” for confirmation of their Death Metal heritage. Put simply this will interest as many fans of Obituary as it will of My Dying Bride. The distilling of Death Metal’s brutality does mean a distinct lack of gothic lyrics and floating melodies that bands of this genre often utilise in abundance but this is no bad thing and it allows the band to focus fully on the snail-paced stampede of crushing riffs and melancholy that punish the listeners’ ears across 5 funeral marches over 55 minutes. Not for the impatient and faint of heart; you’ll be begging for comfort in the form of some clean lyrics before long and when they arrive in the shape of guitarist Frank’s mournful and anguished cries you’ll find them every bit as uncompromising as the rest of this infernal dirge of a record.
Ok, so diversity may not be Mourning Beloveth’s middle name, most of the 5 songs showing little variation of riffs and quite rigid structures but this only adds to the discomfort laced hauntingly with beauty and that is after all, what Doom should be about. However good a record this is however, it is by no means a classic of the genre, and with Mourning Beloveth’s stellar back catalogue in mind it could have been better had they taken a few more risks. As a band on the periphery of breaking into greater spheres and establishing themselves more fully, Mourning Beloveth really ought to be making great records, not merely good records. If you can’t get enough of uncompromising Doom with planet-heavy riffs played slower than a granny with osteoporosis and melancholic vocals baying about the effects of heroin addiction then this is for you. But if you’re strapped for cash then maybe you ought to go for the new Graveyard Dirt EP instead.
Originally printed in Northern Blaze zine issue # 1; reproduced here with express permission of the editor.
This album absolutely crushes!
I thought A Murderous Circus was awesome. Even if it was a let down from That Sullen Sulcus and a turn from the warmth of Dust, the sparse mood and the slow grinding build-up to much of that record kicked my butt. Even so, I know many people were horribly disappointed in that album and hoped for some kind of return to form.
Well, with A Disease For The Ages that is exactly what we receive. This album is full-on back in the groove. First of all, it's far more straight forward. The songs are still long but the somber clean guitar passages have been toned down considerably and the guitars have been beefed up and grind away like never before. Second, the clean vocals, though still used sparingly are way better than ever before. There are some truly incredible passages here that lift several portions of the album to even greater heights. Finally, the killer production has returned. Like I stated earlier the guitars are back and this time they are monstrous! It doesn't get much heavier and for doom/death there is no other option. The bass drum is again full and the vocals are harsh and vicious as ever. All the elements are there for this to rule but the songwriting is left to put it all together.
It took a bit to start getting this album, with my expectations high as they come (they and Evoken being fav doom/death bands), but this is without a doubt their best release thus far. It's completely brutal and when the melodies begin sinking in it just kills! This band has the ability, like no other, to just grab me and pummel me into submission with everything they've got. They weave in melody and a certain tension into their best material that just begs you to continue on. In the midst of it the sound can be crushing but in the end it's almost beautiful how it all comes together. This album takes all the best they have to offer and weaves together in what can only be considered a masterpiece of doom/death proportions.
As much as I'd love to say Daylight Dies had a chance before this album came out, this will undoubtedly be the best doom/death album I purchase this year. Considering The Sullen Sulcus was one of my top 5 doom releases of all time, A Disease For The Ages is reserving itself in that pantheon all the same.
After three long and torturous years of waiting for a new album the Irish Doomsters Mourning Beloveth finally saw it fit to bestow upon their fans with a new and amazing album. This is by far the bands best effort to date as it breaks the monotonous mold of the prior three albums venturing into new and wondrous territories.
The production is solid, slightly better than ‘A Murderous Circus’ and brings out the pain and suffering in every note. The guitars are heavy, monstrous and surprisingly epic. The leads and rhythms are noticeably different from the bands original style all the while staying true to their sound. There is the bands crunchiest CD yet and it doesn’t take away from the long, drawn out dirges that we’re used to.
The bass is ominous and plodding. It follows the guitars a bit much however. The drums sound amazing. They are even more expressive and help to lay a new foundation for what would have otherwise been a tired formula.
The vocals range from clean spoken and sung to Darren’s usual growls/shrieks. The cleans are outstanding as Frank really goes above and beyond his typical midrange wailing to show us that he does in fact have a surprisingly good high range. Darren uses less of his spoken words and more or less goes for his typical growls.
As the album opens its apparent that this isn’t your typical MB release. The newest addition to the band has certainly added a new dimension to the band that would have otherwise been lost. This album, like all their albums, is faster than the last, in saying that, it’s still very much a Doomdeath album, just varied. There are surprises around every turn, nothing is expected.
This album is loaded with epic atmosphere and perhaps less emphasis on the sorrow of the prior releases. This isn’t to say that it’s a happy romp through the fields of Power Metal bliss, but rather it’s a new interpretation of the bands already original sound. This is something that all doomsters should own. Highly recommended.
The Irish Mourning Beloveth are back 3 years after A Murderous Circus to offer us a fourth opus of Death Doom as bleak as cold: A Disease Of The Ages. This album was recorded in Studio E with Markus Stock and released on the label Grau Records (Prophecy Productions). An album of melancholy unparalleled fade to a death.
A Disease Of The Ages spreading an heavy and intense atmosphere that face its auditor to its own demons. Indeed, the death voice of Darren Moore joined with instruments gives a melancholy without a name: an atmosphere charged with negative emotions. This atmosphere is perfect theme of this latest opus which is the slow deconstruction of the body and mind with time.
This album begins with The Sickness as a long introduction to the human deconstruction. We can find a blend between Death vocal by Darren Moore and Heavy vocal by Frank Brennan. Followed then by Trace Decay, a title that containing the same atmosphere of depression and slowness with the same mixture of songs. We can find slow passages and others slower than first! Primeval Rush appears as a redemptive time, a moment of solitude to let us walk in our thoughts, giving the impression that time slowed until half of the title and then accelerate before a last period of slowness. The Burning Man wants to be in the same vein as the first two titles with its heavy and dull repetitive sounds. A Disease Of The Ages ends with Poison Beyond All. Like the rest of the album, we are almost entitled to static but pale sounds too.
A Disease Of The Ages is the first album of Mourning Beloveth where we can hear Brendan Roche on bass, all doesn’t contains female voice or keyboard, just pure Death Doom of melancholy and sadness. The style is slow as it should be to any good Doom album self-respecting, but the melodies are rather repetitive. The style and originality are not enough depth, which can seem boring. The fans will find still their behalf.
Review originally written to www.metaleum.org