Mournful Congregation
The Book of Kings


4.0
excellent

Review

by fireaboveicebelow USER (108 Reviews)
December 23rd, 2011 | 38 replies | 6,433 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist


Funeral doom is rather peculiar for its consistency, in that most other genres suffer from it, but this one utilizes its time and history for tightening the wreath that is its breadth. Mournful Congregation exemplify this rather well with their discography, and while the consistency is proving its worth, the boundary that is “genre” is starting to slowly cripple the quality of work. That’s not to defame The Book of Kings; it ranks as high as any of their other records. Heaviness as older generations interpret is its element of opulence, working much in the way as fellow fathers Thergothon or Skepticism where the music never tries to be overpowering but merely is, thus the density has much more effect, and in tandem with the atmosphere The Australian trio ruminates these through their course.

First of all, too many doom bands rely on synthetic sorrow or superficial atmosphere, and while it seems to work on too many people, the bands that can do it naturally don’t get nearly enough credit for it. The way atmosphere is manifested here is purely through the arrangement of notes instead of tacky synths and uselessly meandering leads, and when keyboards make an appearance, which is about four times, it is not overbearing or purposeless, such as the buzz-like synth throughout the title track or the stridently beautiful outro of The Catechism of Depression. The guitar sound surprisingly works really well on its own exuding the dispirited theme just because of attention to production. The arrangements, while “simple”, give off a classical edge that is hard to explain, for there’s nothing blatantly austere but there’s always an apparent ministration throughout the album, which is a perfect supplement for something this slow.

While I mentioned that the “rules” of doom are beginning to affect the creative process, The Book of Kings does well enough to avoid stagnation. First of all, the vocals are only growls during the bookend tracks. For the two middle tracks, they are spoken word or whispered, and these styles are also added to the growling in the title track. The variance of vocals does wonders for music that requires this much repetition, especially the two sections of the album with male choir, an addition I wished they could incorporate more. There’s also an abundance of clean and acoustic guitars, most apparent in The Waterless Streams and The Bitter Veils of Solemnity, that expand the resonance, especially when production plays more of a part or when an acoustic solo infers folk influence or when they mix the cleans with the distortion in much better consequence than conventionalized examples.

With its long songs, it is disappointing that the transitions are often less thought out than they should be. It’s more apparent in the 33 minutes of the title track, where there are many, many transitions but none too satisfying. The song can make up for it by not having much filler in the first place, but it still leaves something unfinished. On a contrary note, the album is more thought out than this would suggest thankfully. The bookends and the two middle tracks are, respectfully, extremely complementary; The Catechism of Depression and The Book of Kings both share means of build, riff patterns, overall sonic similarity, whereas The Waterless Streams and The Bitter Veils of Solemnity sound like the same song written in different ways, but never being redundant. The songs don’t share exact riffs, but give the impression of conscious relation due to their arc...much like a book.

The Book of Kings will be one of the last records of its kind before the genre will be forced to progress and it marks its place in time well, and thankfully so in a year with not much quality metal to speak of compared to the usual. Where Colosseum has ended with the death of a member, Mournful Congregation will pick up the slack with their contemporaries and hopefully the genre can continue to expand while maintaining and tautening its solidified principles. The resourceful airs of the present gives good indication.



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user ratings (35)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Acanthus
December 23rd 2011


9542 Comments


I don't always review albums, but when I do I submit them in pairs.

Digging: Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2011


18450 Comments


haha

Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

fireaboveicebelow
December 23rd 2011


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Heh, might as well. I'm surprised more people don't do it. I had most of these written already anyway.

Relinquished
December 23rd 2011


25004 Comments


real glad you're sticking around for now bro

DoubtGin
December 23rd 2011


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hmm

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2011


17212 Comments


half of this is incredible, half of this is phoned the fuck in.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

seedofnothing
December 23rd 2011


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, pos.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2011


16387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this rules

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
December 23rd 2011


8816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

love this album a lot :]

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

fireaboveicebelow
December 23rd 2011


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, I wish more people liked this stuff

Tyrael
December 24th 2011


20875 Comments


rules

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

Wizard
December 29th 2011


19389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I swear, Opeth and Agalloch wrote "The Bitter Veils of Solemnity" years ago.

Digging: Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra - The Key to the Gates of the Apocalypse

Hawks
December 29th 2011


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is good stuff. Didn't think it was anything that amazing though.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

seedofnothing
December 29th 2011


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album was good and amazing.

Wizard
December 29th 2011


19389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was good and amazing?

This is like run-of-the-mill funeral doom with an Agalloch/ Opeth acoustic song sandwiched between. The June Frost is much more accomplished than this.

seedofnothing
December 29th 2011


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah The June Frost is better, but when you can get into a certain mood, this album can be perfect. That's my only downside; I'm just not always in the mood for it.


I've enjoyed this best at night while lying in bed, as that's when I have the most patience.

Wizard
December 29th 2011


19389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

acoustic song on a metal album = insta agalloch ripoff

I never implied that. But you have to admit that it sounds exactly like something off The Mantle or Blackwater Park. I don't give a shit how elite or doom perfect this band is, that song reeks of plagiarizing.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2012


8816 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I never implied that. But you have to admit that it sounds exactly like something off The Mantle or Blackwater Park.


i don't agree with that at all. blackwater park? yes, the comparison is understandable. but the mantle? like, really? no, i'm sorry, i don't see it. the instrumentation may be similar but what they're actually playing is worlds apart and as far as atmosphere goes they couldn't be further.

as for everything else being 'run of the mill', honestly, where it may seem basic i don't know a band that sounds quite like this one. the use of acoustics, the clear, clean yet heavy and natural production sticks out to me a lot and the leads are pretty unique to me.

i mean it's cool that you don't like it as much as me but comparing it to other bands that are doing something quite different is just a disservice not only to this but the bands you're comparing this to. :]

LoneWanderer
May 29th 2012


180 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I do hope June Frost is as good as this...I'm trying that one out next.

Wizard
May 29th 2012


19389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's far better.



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