|Review: Mournful Congregation - The June Frost|
|The June Frost|
Label: Weird Truth Productions
Year released: 2009
Genre: Funeral Doom
Review online: May 19, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
for:The June Frost
Given that it consists largely of "metal played really, really slowly", Funeral Doom is a remarkably varied genre; from the "destroying the church with pipe organ brutality" of Skepticism, through the thrumming ocean depths of Ahab, to the cataclysmic annihilation of Tyranny (I always thought that if you could bear witness to an asteroid ploughing into the Earth in slow motion that the only sensible soundtrack would be Tides of Awakening), there is a lot that can be done at 40 bpm. Continuing this theme is Australia's Mournful Congregation, a Funeral Doom band that plays slow, dirge-like doom that perfectly captures its genres moniker, and with The June Frost they have brought forward some of the most despair laden, crushing metal to grace these ears this year.
Atmospheric intros don't get much better than "Solemn Strikes the Funeral Chime", as not only do we get some interesting melodies and atmosphere, we also get a genuine intro that sets the feel of the album in no uncertain terms – this is crushingly sorrowful music. Crushing is truly the right word here as The June Frost has a fearsomely heavy guitar sound that is full and deep, while also being clear and sharp when the upper end of the fret board releases some exquisite melodies. At seventeen minutes "White Cold Wrath Burnt Frozen Blood" is an exercise in endurance, not because of the length (it's an engaging track), but because of the bitter depression it evokes – this is punishingly slow music, spawned from the grave, and it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the acoustic interludes and "Marche Funebre"-inspired guitars (that bring to mind the mid section of "Orion") – this is a tour de force of sorrow and bittersweet remembrance. "Descent of the Flames" continues the theme with some impossibly low notes and some painfully slow riffs that evoke feelings of free fall with an empty grave the only reward once you land back on the earth. The vocals of Damon Good are deep growls, and while they don't have the cavernous reverb common to the genre, they are low in the mix and all the more menacing for it. Throw in some spoken word passages, some black-ish rasping and ethereal whispery growls, and you have a memorably bleak performance. Mixed amid the funeral procession are some absolute moments of melodic beauty. Listen to the closing minutes of "White Cold " and the instrumental title track for some satin guitar lines that will pierce your heart with their icy sadness.
Making an hour long Funeral Doom album engaging is no small feat but Mournful Congregation has managed to make it memorable as well. Each track has its own identity, and rather than fall victim to the impenetrable wall of sound so common in the genre, they are all readily identifiable. This isn't going to win many new fans to the Funeral Doom fold as, even more so than Black Metal, this is a niche sound, but fans of the more depressing Doom bands like Virgin Black or Doom:VS will find much to like here along with those bleak souls who have already surrendered themselves to the soil.
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