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A masterpiece, the epitome of sorrow: perfection - 100%

Weltering_in_Blood, March 3rd, 2011

Mournful Congregation have quite rightly earned a reputation as one of the most powerful and original doom metal acts of the past two decades. Since their first demo in 1994, they have released a small but significant discography that stands as a monument of pure, untouchable doom metal. In fact, they are one of the few important doom bands of recent times who can't easily fit into a sub-subgenre such as funeral doom, black doom, "traditional" doom, sludge, etc. Throughout their existence as a band, each new release has continually topped the previous effort. Their first two demos showed great promise, but were still rough around the edges; the band were still finding their own sound. Their first LP, "Tears from a Grieving Heart", was quite simply profound, with moments of sheer unadulterated grief that threaten to bring the listener to his or her knees in awe. This was followed by a couple of splits, which acted, but it was to be a full seven years until their second full-length. It was more than worth the wait.

From the opening chords of "Mother - Water, the Great Sea Wept", it's obvious that the listener is in for a truly overwhelming experience. The bass hits first, pouring from the speakers and vibrating the room. Then the guitars come in. I have never heard more sorrowful and heart-wrenching playing on any recording. And then the vocals, tortured and deep, alternating between a throat-shredding rasp and low-register sung parts that evoke monastic rites. I'm not going to go into a song-by-song breakdown of this album because it seems pointless: each song is perfect (not a term I throw around lightly), and each comes together as part of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

This all may seems very vague, and in some ways it is, but the fact is that words on a screen cannot even come close to capturing the power and majesty of this album. Where other doom bands may embrace the energy of death, decay and devil-worship (and that is valid, and powerful, and necessary), Mournful Congregation have perfected the sound of melancholy. Every time I listen to "The Monad of Creation" I feel like I'm being dragged into the depths of loss and pain; each time the record finishes I come out reborn. Hyperbolic, yes, but also true. There are very, very few recordings that affect me so profoundly. I give this a 100/100, which is not something I take lightly; I doubt there are even a dozen others I would give the same score to, and only two or three I can even think of off the top of my head. Indeed, I would give most of my favorite albums no higher than a 90 or 95 at best, because as great as they are there are always places where I could imagine some minor improvement. "The Monad of Creation" could not possibly be improved upon. In the best of all possible worlds, this album would still sound exactly as it does.