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Mournful Congregation > The Exuviae of Gods - Part I > Reviews > Mercian Doomster
Mournful Congregation - The Exuviae of Gods - Part I

The exquisite warmth of funeral doom - 88%

Mercian Doomster, June 21st, 2022

Mournful Congregation are back with their first release in four years with the three-track EP, The Exuviae of Gods - Part I, which at 37 minutes is almost an album anyway in my book. Well, there seems to be no let up in quality yet from the ridiculously consistent Aussie funeral doom merchants because this is a quite marvellous release. Their combination of gut-wrenching melancholy, crushing heaviness and inexplicable beauty is an alchemical formula that they have perfected over the previous three decades and which has produced some of the finest funeral doom metal committed to disc, culminating in this superb EP.

The EP is consists of two fifteen-minute tracks separated by the gorgeous seven-minute instrumental title track and this symmetry provides a satisfyingly coherent structure to the release as a whole. Opener, Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time is the heaviest of the three tracks and has a quick-ish tempo for funeral doom (although this is relative obviously). It is also the only track to utilise the usual deep growling vocals most commonly associated with the genre. It begins with a church organ intro before erupting with the huge chords that constitute the main riff and the aforementioned deep growls caress your inner ear. The lead guitar work is very melodic and has a soaring quality that contrasts beautifully with the grounded heavy riff and subterranean vocals.

The instrumental title track that forms the heart of the ep is a gentle, melancholy-sounding piece that is led by acoustic guitar and also features cascading lead work that adds to the melancholy air like a gentle rain. Exuviae are the cast-off exoskeletons left behind after insects, arachnids and cruataceans moult as they grow and the title paints a striking picture of a huge empty shell of some indescribably ancient creature in the vein of Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep found in some remote place that is at once awe-inspiring and yet tinged with horror and sadness as proof is offered that time takes it's toll on even these mighty beings.

The final track An Epic Dream of Desire is slower than the opener, of a more usual funeral doom pacing, but it utilises clean spoken (in fact almost whispered) vocals to croon the lyrics of celestial doubt and loneliness into your ear. Despite being ultra-slow and heavy the riff here is also imbued with a warmth that makes it feel more like a comforting blanket than a smothering shroud and it seems to hold a promise that ultimately everything will be OK.
I found The Exuviae of Gods - Part I to be an extraordinarily moving release and it holds an inherent beauty within the three tracks, tinged with a sadness at the inevitability of time at it's core, but that also allows a ray of hope to shine through the clouds of this inevitability. Breathtaking songwriting from a band on top form.