Review Summary: A debut album that is overshadowed by its successor, but still manages to make for a great doom album.
Doom metal is a tricky genre. It is highly unlikely for bands to make any large achievements, which is the reason why the genre is one of the least popular types of metal, compared with the likes of death metal or black metal. There are some bands that have become the leading front of doom, such as My Dying Bride or Katatonia, but to the dedicated doom fans there are so many better bands to be found. Mourning Beloveth is one such band. Formed in Ireland in 1992, they made two demos before releasing their debut album, Dust. This was then followed by the amazing sophomore, The Sullen Sulcus. A third album followed, and a fourth is due for this year but I am not acquainted with these as of yet.
To elaborate, Mourning Beloveth play a very traditional brand of doom, with a large emphasis placed on a lurching tempo, pounding riffs, and an overall apocalyptic sense of doom. The band they can be most likened to would have to be My Dying Bride. However, this traditional sound is taken a step further by an amazing array of vocals, and a great deal of melody. Add to this a slight progressive edge, and Mourning Beloveth is able to detract itself from the majority of useless and mediocre doom bands that are around these days. The one thing I noticed about Dust, as well as some other recent Doom releases, such as Worship’s new album, is that the usual introductory track, or even an introductory section of the first song, is no longer apparent. Rather, Mourning Beloveth has opted to immediately throw you into a song. I personally am a little traditional, and would rather have an introduction to such an album, so this made the album ‘experience’ a little less glorious.
The first thing you’ll notice once the album begins is the vocals. There are three different styles of vocals on Dust, all of which are done superbly. To begin with, we have the spoken sections. There are quite a few of these, and are done by Darren Moore who also has the harsh vocal duties. Normally I wouldn’t really bother mentioning spoken word sections, but they are a fundamental part of the charm that Mourning Beloveth have. Moore has a very dreary, emotional voice, which is rocketed into brilliance by the Irish accent. It’s one of those things which you have to hear to understand, but his voice is absolutely perfect for the spoken word sections. The band knows this, and utilise it to the full effect. Moore also takes care of the harsh vocals, which are just as amazing. Incredibly low, rough and very well-suited to the style of music they play. He doesn’t really go high very much, but his low growl is strong enough to stand up on its own. The third type of vocals are done by guitarist Frank Brennan. He adds clean singing to the mixture, which are also done very well. Again, we have a slight Irish tint to his accent, and his voice, very much like Moore’s, is pained, tortured, anguished, or any number of adjectives that the thesaurus links with suffering. To complement the music, Brennan most often sings slowly and holds his notes for very long. Another point in favour of this album is that with two separate vocalists, there are sections on the album in which both the clean and harsh vocals are done together, which makes a great combination. In terms of vocals, this album is very diverse, which adds to its longevity.
On the other hand, if you have ever been turned away from bands like My Dying Bride, or doom metal in general, because you found it too slow, or too boring, or too un-technical, then I can assure you that this album will not change your mind. The riffs are heavy, crushing, and somewhat melodic, but they are definitely not technical, and/or fast. Aside from a few particular climaxes in which the tempo is accelerated, the album generally plods along at a relatively slow pace. I was mostly attentive throughout the entire album, but there were several moments which I thought the music dragged a little. This is less apparent on The Sullen Sulcus, which I think to be a better album in all respects, but it does plague Dust somewhat. That said, I didn’t really find any whole song boring, just some passages were played longer than necessary. I don’t think it would be a problem with any doom fan though, because a lot of doom is structured like this, and you wouldn’t really notice it.
Dust in itself is a great album, and I would definitely recommend it to any fan of Doom metal. However, the existence of The Sullen Sulcus would hinder such a situation, because The Sullen Sulcus is very similar, just better executed. I still like to think that this was the bridge that led Mourning Beloveth to The Sullen Sulcus, so in that respect I still regard this as an excellent album. The bonus edition with two extra tracks is I think more available than the original and if, like me, you think this band is the absolute bee’s knees, then you should have no qualms on getting both.