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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