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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review: Mourning Beloveth - Rust & Bone

Mourning Beloveth is an Irish doom death metal band that has been around for over two decades. The band came into existence back in 1992, and their first recording, a two-track-demo called ‘Burden’, was released four years later. Despite its age, this demo is still representative for Mourning Beloveth’s current work, which is a good thing, because quite frankly, they are really good at what they do. However, knowing their earlier work quite well, I did encounter a few differences on their upcoming release, ‘Rust & bone’. Be prepared, you could very well be surprised here.

Being their ninth feat of arms and their sixth full-length album, it’s a relatively short album, only 39 minutes, containing five songs. Or rather, three songs that are separated by two peaceful sounding intermezzos. A somewhat peculiar track list, composition-wise, but more about that later. Where their earlier work mostly consisted of slow, dark, lingering songs, leaning on heavy guitar riffs, this time some sort of mood change seems to have taken place. Overall the music is still slow and often inertly heavy and dark, but there’s a definite brightness, even some acoustic work, pushing back the dark at times. In retrospect the closer on their previous album Formless, ‘Transmissions’, could have been a foretaste of things to come, but I for one never would have expected it to be at this extend, though.

‘Rust & bone’ opens the dance with, in my opinion, its magnum opus, an epic song that spans well over a third of the playing time of the entire album. It’s called ‘Godether’. It has a curiously composed intro, with a single guitar that seems to hesitate every now and then which gets back up from an equally hesitant sounding vocal line by, I assume, Frank Brennan, guitarist and clean vocalist of Mourning Beloveth. Though the guitar and vocals superficially do not seem in sync at all, in fact they are a perfect match once you allow yourself to listen more closely. It then suddenly bursts out in a doomy rhythm, with great vocal work from Darren Moore, howling guitar work by either Frank Brennan or Pauric Gallagher and prominent, rhythm-defying drum work by Timmy Johnson. To add to the already oppressing atmosphere, the vibrant bass lines, played by Brendan Roche, play a deadly duet with the guitar lines, putting even more depth in the rhythm. And then, just like that, it ends with a growl from Darren. The music transforms into a soothing, rippling melody, only to burst out into the doomy rhythm once again. This time it builds up to the climax of the song, which is a black-metal fast with matching drum lines and a screaming Darren to fire things up even more. Truly an adventure, this song.

Next up is a focal point of tranquility called ‘Rust’. It’s an acoustic piece with humming voices, which serves as an introduction to yet another impressive song called ‘The mantle tomb’. It’s overall speed in the first part is a bit higher than ‘Godether’ and it has a more bright feel to it, without clearing the atmosphere too much. The solid instrumental work perfectly engulfs the vocals, where the growls by Darren are interspersed with Frank’s distinctive clean voice. When the song reaches its halfway point the pace slows and Darren takes full control with his growls and the guitar work becomes more dominant, leading the song to its inevitable, yet surprising end.

Another moment of tranquility comes with the second part of the title-tandem called ‘Bone’. It’s a short instrumental intermezzo that guides us to the closing track called ‘A terrible beauty is born’. This is an interesting piece, in no way comparable to the other two longer tracks on ‘Rust & bone’. It’s a (semi-) acoustic song, which intro, strangely enough, immediately caused the name ‘Alan Parsons’ to pop up in my mind. The rhythm of the song, which is somewhat unusual in its irregularity, is simple yet vivacious. The clean vocals seem to swirl around the music and the drums seem to live a separate life, adding to the overall atmosphere of unease that slowly but surely creeps under your skin. Some way to end this album.

‘Rust & bone’ is a doom death metal album that is beautiful in its variety, surprising setup and musical paths. It’s entertaining from the first tone until the dying seconds where the drums fittingly say goodbye. The overwhelming ‘Godether’, the two-faced ‘The mantle tomb’, the unsettling ‘A terrible beauty is born’, the tranquil tandem ‘Rust’ and ‘Bone’, they all play a vital part in the overall feel of the album. There is no way I can call this a typical Mourning Beloveth album, I am, however, willing to call this their my personal favorite to date. Fans will be surprised at times, but I’m sure they’ll very much appreciate this gem. The production is great, every single layer has its own grade of dominance, fortifying the overall sound. Definitely recommended!

Written by Henric van Essen


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