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Mourning Beloveth : Rust & Bone

The latest Mourning Beloveth album is a phenomenal piece of purest Death/Doom.

Mourning Beloveth is a Death/Doom Metal band from Ireland that I have been quite keen on for the past few years. Their take on the style has been very consistent over the years; slow, dire Doom Metal with spacious riffs, abrasive growled vocals from frontman Darren Moore, and melodic clean singing from guitarist Frank Brennan (formerly of Epic Doom band Old Season). What really draws me to them is the atmosphere that they create with their music; there is this old, haggard, dusty vibe to their sound, which is mostly brought on by the haunting contributions of the latter of the two vocalists.

Rust & Bone is the sixth output from the Irish quintet, and though they are stylistic the same, the flow of the album is a tad different from their prior releases. Whereas the past albums typically consisted of five to six full tracks, the entirety of the release here is compromised of two full tracks (one being sixteen minutes and the other being eleven minutes), two acoustic interludes, and an eerie acoustic ballad at the end of the album. Because of this, the album feels considerably short, perhaps more suiting to be the length of an EP. In fact, I would say that this factor alone was the only drawback of the album for me, because by the end of its run time, I was wishing to hear so much more of it.

While it's a shame that the album itself could not have been longer, I can say that, as a fan of Mourning Beloveth, I am incredibly pleased with how the music itself sounds. As I stated before, their style has never really had too significant a stylistic change over the years, but they perform their music so skillfully and have enough hooks and memorable melodies in their albums that one doesn't become bored with them. With this album, the band balances out extremely desolate, droning passages of Doom with the anguished death grunts of Darren, and eerily calm interludes with the dramatic epic cleans of Frank. It's a very tasteful interplay between the two of them, and though one would imagine the more melodic sound of the latter would lighten the mood of the music, let me tell you now that there is not a single moment of this album in which you won't feel you are trapped in a dusty ocean of Doom!

The reason why I use the term "ocean" to describe the music would mostly be brought on by the wailing, hazy sound of the first distorted riffs of opening track 'Godether'. An utterly dejected, funeral-paced riff is met with gnarly growls and a noisy level of distortion that almost brings Warning or 40 Watt Sun to mind in how blatantly crushing it sounds. Things calm back down to a quiet passage of clean guitars and haunting wails of clean vocals alongside eerie whispers. Though one would expect the music to return a steady Funeral Doom paced fashion, the tempos begin to build and grow faster, before accelerating into an unexpected peak of pure Death Metal. Those who are long-time fans of the band will know they have picked up the pace of their music from time to time, but perhaps never to quite this extent before. Pummeling blastbeats and an utterly dejected repeated melody are met with some of the nastiest, most inhuman screams I have heard in the genre. It is a very strong transition from sadness and hopelessness to utter Nihilism and anger, and it's pulled off extremely well.

The ending of the monstrous track blends into a calm acoustic interlude known as 'Rust'. A gloomy acoustic melody plucks along quietly as Frank's voice yawns and wails in harmony, almost slightly out of tune to add a shade of ugliness to the generally soothing, melancholic piece.

'The Mantle Tomb' takes off with a very epic, mid-tempo riff that would match something one would hear out of Anathema's The Silent Enigma album. Frank's melodic tenor crooning adds a very majestic, almost heroic feel to the more driving up-tempo sections of the music, as he alternates with the grim rasps and bellows of Darren. Half-way through the song, the pace winds down to the band's trademark level of steady, ever-flowing slowness. The haunting guitar melodies become slightly more uplifting, as if an utterly barren winter landscape has melted away to reveal a spring meadow, in which the weather is warm, but the clouds are still gray and the threat of rain is almost imminent. As the song begins to fade out, Darren's bellows reverberate the lines "FALLING APART AT THE SEAMS" as if they were his final words… which, for this album, they are.

A second interlude entitled 'Bone' follows, consisted of a lullaby of gentle clean chords and an ever-floating distorted line, which fades out as quickly as it came…

Final track, 'A Terrible Beauty is Born' is an acoustic ballad, fronted by Frank. The chords of the song are very introspective and relaxed, while his lyrics consist of lines from the poem 'Easter, 1916' by W.B. Yeats. The idea of a clean acoustic ballad being put in place of an Extreme Metal album may bring the likes of Opeth to mind, but dare I say, I find this track to be much more effective and emotive than anything I have ever heard from the famous Swedish group… and I am a big fan of theirs. Frank sings the verses of the eulogy as if the words were truly his. A lot of haunting harmonies are applied alongside his voice, as his lines wail and enunciate so well that it is easy to carry the emotion of what he is singing. It's an extremely effective closer to the album, allowing the listener to feel as if each of the members were able to contribute their own time to shine throughout the album.

Going back to the uniqueness of the band's atmosphere, there are numerous factors which I find help them to stand out from other Death/Doom Metal bands today. First and foremost, there is absolutely no presence of romance in their music. You will not find a single piano, violin, or keyboard in the entirety of the music. Alongside that, there is neither the clean Melodic vibe that most bands tend to reach for these days (Before the Rain and Doom:VS come to mind), nor the overly abrasive, more Sludge/Death Metal abrasiveness that is focused almost entirely on aggression or ugliness (think Ramesses or Dragged into Sunlight). Mourning Beloveth simply play Death-tinged Doom Metal in its purest form, and the astonishing vocal performance of Frank Brennan is what ultimately helps them reach the high level of talent that I feel that they deserve to be on.

Though I still wish there had been more material present on the album, I can say, without a doubt, that Rust & Bone is a phenomenal album that deserves to be heard by, not only fans of the style, but by anybody interested in Metal in general. It's a well-crafted, emotional, and overall effective album that you will want to listen to again and again.

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Reviewer's rating: 9.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Godether
2. Rust
3. The Mantle Tomb
4. Bone
5. A Terrible Beauty is Born

Duration : Approx. 38 minutes

Visit the Mourning Beloveth bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-03-20 by Dante DuVall
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