Friday, September 30, 2011

Mournful Congregation - "The Unspoken Hymns" (2011) [20 Buck Spin]


...never sounded so bloody good.

Mournful Congregation should be a household name by now, as this Australian entity has become arguably the most important name in modern doom metal. Their trademark has been set in stone as being their beyond-perfect riff compositions and their emotive, yet evocative atmosphere they so effortlessly convey.

For anyone who pays a whole lot of attention to this band, there is some material on this album that is quite recognizable. This new album, is, in fact, a compilation of split/comp. material, with some extra goodies thrown in. We have a new version of 'Left Unspoken' (which, I would suppose, would be tied in to the name of this compilation), as well as a very fitting Thergothon cover from a tribute album (seriously, what better band could cover a Thergothon song? I am willing to actually fight about this.)

While only some of this album can be called 'new', what we have here is something that every compilation should be... a collection of a band's most well-received tracks, recorded in different formats than the full-length versions, and extra goodies.

Every somber passage sounds that much more soul-churning, and this material is enough to suck in the listener for a full listen. In a world where every kid with an iPod shuffle has musical ADHD, this material is much like, say, a rainbow... no matter what you're doing, you need to stop and pay attention to it until it is finished.

The 'funeral doom' genre tag has been used and abused for quite some time now, and very few artists deserve to be called pioneers of such an esoteric, yet important genre of music. With this release, Mournful Congregation prove to us why their work so far has solidified themselves as much more than pioneers, but pure artisans in the craft of the genre. Other artists may sound like them, but barely anyone can convey this type of musical hypnotism better than they. Even the most try-hard 'armchair music critic' will have a long, hard night ahead of them trying to come up with a proper skeptical response to this set of songs.

I usually am not much for compilations, but for a band like Mournful Congregation, even a single would be enough to get me excited. As expected, there are some variations in production in the different songs, but all of it can be proof that this band produces quality music despite what recording environment they find themselves in. Even in the Thergothon cover, we hear the band in perhaps their most 'organic' and underproduced recording in a long time, yet it somehow makes it sound that much more special.

Highly, highly recommended. And be forewarned; there is a new full-length in the works that, as a sneak preview has indicated, will further justify my earnest praise for this band and what they do...


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