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Mournful Congregation : The June Frost

Wow! This is all white! "Mournful Congregation ... The June Frost" ... two gray clouds on a vast white background. The artwork is somewhat surprising. It contrasts with the taste for black that the band was showing on its other albums' covers. This is obviously not innocent. Black blinds the eyes; white opens the horizon. But when the color is subtitled "The June Frost", we can be confident: there's contrast in the air, there can be even some surprises...
There are some suprises in fact: this new long awaited album is a little different from what we knew of the Australian band. The titles are shorter than we have been used to, this is a real change. The band is also (even) more melodic than ever. If they have gained some melodic smoothness, they have also lost some of the epic feeling which made 'The Dawning Of Mournful Hymns' and 'The Monad Of Creation' such impressive monoliths.

If it has given up the majesty of the past, the music on 'The June Frost' is, if possible, more introspective. This intimacy, this sense of softness, opens a new era. Mournful Congregation has quietly gone a step further. They were intelligent and sensitive; they now have become more subtle, more delicate.
Mournful Congregation is some singular Funeral Doom band. It doesn’t resort to metronomic repetitions and recurrent patterns to set its meditative power; quite the contrary. MELODY is the key word for the Australians. Their music is made of soft variations and slight ripplings. The tracks cling to each other smoothly; long songs, short songs, they all tell the same muffled story that with great fluidity. Mournful Congregation, as opposed to their peers, does not sound like the hammer of Vulcan pulverizing entire mountains. M.C. is not heavy. It is mellow, soft and sad. The guitar lines are light, colorful and aerial, the frequent use of the acoustic guitar inhibit the usual crushing effects. Mournful Congregation is a Funeral band but it turns its back on the genre's stereotypes.
These are two notable features.
'The June Frost' is a sentimental album, if I may say so. It is full of feelings and concrete emotions. It’s filled with a personal melancholy that immerses itself into white mist, like a quilted cocoon where we slowly sink. The production is excellent and serves well the meditative character of the music: it is clear and powerful but not too much, its slightly muffled grain helps to settle the intimate ceremony. Everything is in its place: voice (spoken or growled) and instruments. No star, no virtuoso, no bad taste. Each element comes at the right time and always with a sense of moderation, of elegant restraint.
With 'The June Frost', Mournful Congregation shows that it remains one of the best bands ever. Its talent transcends all genres. Although, by the very fact of it's deeply DOOM and intrinsically FUNERAL spirit, its music is of course targetting fans of that very style. However, I'd bet all the CD's in my collection that anyone ready to give a chance to slowness in music will fall in love with that album... in fact, I'm sure I'm taking no risk here.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Solemn Strikes the Funeral Chime
2. White Cold Wrath Burnt Frozen Blood
3. Descent of the Flames
4. The June Frost
5. A Slow March to the Burial
6. The Februar Winds
7. Suicide Choir
8. The Wreath

Duration : Approx. 60 minutes.

Visit the Mournful Congregation bandpage.

Reviewed on 24-04-2009 by Bertrand marchal
Rotten Copper
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