I am in no way what one would consider a funeral doom aficionado. Whilst I’m familiar with most of the heavy hitters in the genre, at least by name, I can honestly say, I’ve really only spent considerable time with Seattle’s Bell Witch. So, when the opportunity to review the first, of two EPs to be released by Australian legends Mournful Congregation, I took it, seeing it as a chance to expand my always-evolving sonic palate. The Exuviae of Gods – Part I is Mournful Congregation’s first release since 2018’s The Incubus Of Karma, so four years isn’t necessarily that long considering some of the gaps between releases, from a band that’s been around since 1993.
The Exuviae of Gods – Part I opens with Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time, as a well mournful, organ slowly creeps into the listeners consciousness, foreshadowing some pretty massive riffage from not one, not two, but three guitarists: Damon Good, also the vocalist, Justin Hartwig, and Ben Petch. Good’s vocals are definitely of the growly, guttural, death metal-but-way-slower variety. There’s nice lead work, nice melody, glacier-moving-slow tempos, I mean this song is over fourteen minutes long and I’m pretty sure drummer Tim Call has barely broken a sweat until the nine-minute mark. Call does display some nice rolls and fills, as he finds his place with the slow chugging riffage and back-and-forth lead work from the three (!!) guitarists.
There are many layers to Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time, a lot of build, great depth, and some killer lead work from Good, Hartweig, and Petch. Mournful Congregation skillfully keep the listener engaged, despite the length and tempos of the song, showing why they are so revered in the genre.
The Exuviae Of Gods is a mournful (sorry!) instrumental, that features some beautiful acoustic guitar that brilliantly weaves with electric leads, making for a really sorrowful, yet killer piece of music. Call and bassist Ben Newsome eventually find their place, escorting Good, Hartweig, and Petch to the tracks conclusion.
a really sorrowful, yet killer piece of music…
Evidently, closer An Epic Dream Of Desire is a re-recording of a song from 1995. The sorrowful riffs are there, as well as the mountain-moving-rhythm section, Good drops the growl, instead offering a clean, almost-whisper approach. It’s effective and sounds killer next to the doom. Mournful Congregation bring back some of the acoustic guitars, before layers of riffs remerge, all the while Call and Newsome get to stretch their legs a bit on the outro.
While not necessarily my cup of tea, I can see why Mournful Congregation are held in such regards within this genre. The Exuviae of Gods – Part I sounds great, it’s recorded well, with all the instrumentation sounding clear, including the massive riffs, which aren’t overly-distorted. The production adds to the weight, and emotional impact of the listening experience, the band achieving what they are known for.
All five musicians play their parts well, while I’ll give a particular nod to Call, as being a drummer within these tempos, it can’t be easy to find one’s place and make an impact. Funeral doom fans should find much to enjoy with this EP, as they await Part II, or an actual full-length from Mournful Congregation.
Scribed by: Martin Williams