Sunday, October 30, 2011
Mournful Congregation - "The Book of Kings" (2011) [20 Buck Spin Records]
Mournful Congregation's newest offering, the soon-to-be-released The Book of Kings is exactly what the title describes - it is the defining tome as written by the kings of funeral doom. This brooding, atmospheric, beautiful, and slow album is a four song, 77-minute epic, filled to the brim with somber melodies, expansive harmonies, and an attention to detail that rivals romantic classical composer Piotr Tchaikovsky's masterful ear for texture. With ever-growing walls of guitar and fortified with deep, thick bass and cavernous drums, The Book of Kings is almost a castle within itself, built brick by brick by the prodigious doom metal architects themselves.
Vocalist Damon Good's thunderous growls, heartbreaking spoken word, and ghostly whispers never encroach upon fellow guitarist Justin Hartwig and his own beautiful mass of guitars, acting more as a presence within the recordings rather than metal's usual voice-centric approach. As a guitarist, Good's understanding of the band's overall musical construction as a much more powerful vehicle for expression, leading to much longer instrumental periods than in previous Mournful Congregation releases, leading to some of the most explosive, emotional, and outright powerful climaxes heard within funeral doom metal.
Never leaving a processional pace, Mournful Congregation have truly outdone themselves with The Book of Kings, impressing this writer enough to say it might even, no, it absolutely trumps their 2005 full-length the Monad of Creation. Their Chopin-meets-Wagner sense of harmonic construction and melodrama sets them apart from the rest of the normally dull and uninspired genre of funeral doom metal. The kings themselves have written their own book, and it is good...very, very good.
The Book of Kings will be available from the beyond fantastic 20 Buck Spin and Weird Truth records this Tuesday, November 1st.