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Spreading The Disease - 90%

drengskap, August 1st, 2008

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 Bavaria’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 ‘The Sickness’, with the twin guitars of Frank Brennan and Brian Delaney calling and responding the song’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. Moore’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 Stock’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.

‘Trace Decay’ is more depressive and grinding than ‘The Sickness’, with the earlier song’s clean guitar fanfares replaced by a solid barrage of distorted riffs, though Frank Brennan’s vocal cords still get a workout. Morbid, obsessive and remorseless, ‘Trace Decay’ will blot out the light and extinguish all hope. The album’s standout track ‘Primeval Rush’ provides some blessed respite with its softly strummed, introspective guitar intro, yet once the drums and death vocals kick in, you know it’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 7’ 45” mark, there’s a section of Metallica-style choppy riffing which ups the tempo and reminds the listener of Mourning Beloveth’s death metal roots, a point underlined by the emphatic double bass drum work which kicks in at 10’ 26”.‘Primeval Rush’ is crossfaded into the carefully modulated feedback and minatory bass line which open ‘The Burning Man’, before the phalanxes of guitar align themselves for yet another crushing pincer movement – slow and implacable, the song’s forward momentum brooks no resistance. Hoarsely shouted vocals underpin the death growl, and there’s a return to the clean sung vocals which were absent from ‘Primeval Rush’. A quiet melodic interlude at around the six-minute mark demonstrates Mourning Beloveth’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 ‘Poison Beyond All’ 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 isn’t the album’s highlight.

More grandiose and bombastic than many more down’n’dirty doomsters, Mourning Beloveth’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, it’s more than worthy of your attention.

This review was originally written for Judas Kiss webzine: