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I've always fully believed that after the big 3 of Northern England the greatest band in the Death/Doom subgenre to be Mourning Beloveth. Now though, I think in some respects we should start considering the Kildare quintet of drab minstrels to have surpassed their English forebearers, at least in terms of consistency. Whereas Paradise Lost and Anathema have gone through numerous musical mutations and My Dying Bride have had peaks and troughs when it comes to album quality Mourning Beloveth have never failed to deliver the most plaintive and doleful of Metal dirges, with only a small sojourn into more expansive and progressive territories on A Murderous Circus altering their bloody-minded devotion to that maxim. Now 13 years after the release of the monumental début Dust and on album number five Mourning Beloveth give us their true opus, an album that summarily channels all their magnificent work to date.
“Theories Of Old Bones” which begins this album is a real test of patience, even for seasoned Death/Doom fans- 15 minutes of dense musical obsidian punctuated only by one passage of clean vocals and very little in the way of melody. It is tough going for the fairweather metalhead and redolent of their more obscure material from A Murderous Circus, but if you can avoid being swallowed whole by this opening dark pit then the payoff when the album bleeds into its more direct and melodic songs is huge.
“Ethics On The Precipice” is the longest track on here by a good 2 and a half minutes, though is more accessible than “Theories Of Old Bones” by being broken up with a lengthy interlude of morose, slow-strummed guitar, and the last 4 minutes is spectacularly good and makes for an early highpoint for the album.
“Old Rope” by contrast is the shortest song in Mourning Beloveth's back catalogue (except for “Sinistra”, the closing instrumental from Dust) but none of their trademark desolateness is lost by its brevity. In fact its short, dull and heavy thud is as dark and intense as the rest of this album and shows some great vocal variety out of Darren Moore, mixing some flat and monotone spoken word despondent rasps in with his usual abyssal growls. “This place is for people who like the way down” he moans on this song, inadvertently creating an anthem for the subgenre.
Dead Channel” keeps the quality rolling with some sterling call and response between Darren's deep bass-filled growling and Frank Brennan's clean caterwauling which is more tonally varied than ever before, and also delivers perhaps the best guitar solo in Mourning Beloveth's history too. “Nothing Has A Centre” steals the show to round out the main portion of the album though, with new guitarist and backing vocalist Pauric Gallagher proving he was a worthy addition to the band by providing harmony for Frank's clean vocals which take the lead on this number. The final five minutes sees the whole band firing on all cylinders though, including Timmy Johnson on drums who provides some fantastic drum fills and creates the absolute crowning glory for this record. No one comes close to Mourning Beloveth when it comes to this style- no one.
What really elevates this album to being Mourning Beloveth's real magnum opus though is the bonus CD featuring the 15 minute track entitled “Transmissions”- a haunting piece of spoken word with a simple guitar accompaniment. Dystopian ideas are not seen often in this sub-genre more known for personal tales of woe, but this imagining of a world where fact, truth and though no longer exist fits the atmosphere perfectly. “Scraped clean and re-inscribed as often as is necessary... War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength”- those words manage to leave me with a deeper sense of depression than riffs, bestial howls and Nick Cave-esque croons ever could. [10/10]
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts
Originally written for Me Gusta Reviews. www.megustareviews.com
Mourning Beloveth is a doom/death metal outfit that resides in Kildare, Ireland. The band was formed in 1992 and ever since, the band has been perfecting their style of doom/death metal in leaps and bounds. The band sits more towards the doom metal side of heavy metal than the death metal side for the majority of the time, but the band mixes in little bits of knuckle- dragging death metal from time to time (those bits being mighty tasty)! I discovered Mourning Beloveth while I was deeply immersed in an Ahab kick and the two bands complimented each other so well that Mourning Beloveth joined my listening rotation. Ever since that Ahab kick, Mourning Beloveth has never left my rotation and Formless is definitely a record worth repeated listens!
The music....where to begin? The band begins with the delicate clean tones of "Theories of Old Bones" which are shortly accompanied by a distorted guitar chord that introduces the accompanying bass line and drum part. Mourning Beloveth is very, very good at writing suspenseful passages; musical ideas that lead to a culmination before fading back to black from which they came. Formless is full of these tasty little bits! Along with these very well written suspenseful passages, the band will occasionally throw a death metal bone the listeners' way. If you are a fan of the slow and heavy, with a little variety for addition flare, Formless will definitely not waste your time!
The production on this album matches that of previous albums (this is a good attribute). From the opening clean tone in "Theories of Old Bones", one can tell that the sound belongs to Mourning Beloveth. The band sounds big, warm, and beautiful. Finally, the mix is spectacular! If your ear is a fan of sweet treats, this album is definitely catered to please!
Drums, drums, drums! I could go on and on about this subject, but I'll keep it brief. I love the drum sound on this record. The drums sound huge and powerful, but they don't command the final mix. A final note, Timmy Johnson is a phenomenal drummer. Don't let his name fool you; this dude can play! Superb time, well-placed and well-executed drum fills, and a heavy hitter, Johnson is all that a doom metal band can ask for, and more!
Mourning Beloveth is one of my favorite Irish heavy metal bands. At home, the band stands out as arguably one of the most successful Irish doom metal bands. Secondly, the band has been able to hold their own against doom giants such as Ahab, Asunder, and Daylight Dies. Not only that, but Mourning Beloveth has remained consistent and true to their sound with each passing album. Formless is another step forward for this doom metal great! I was gripped firmly by each song, the band sounds great, and the album flowed in exquisite style.