Saturday, March 3, 2018

Mournful Congregation -"the Incubus of Karma"

I got this album within a few days of when I also received the new Totalselfhatred. Two bands who have been at the top of their respected sub-genres in terms of quality, perhaps not album sold considering the niche market of funeral doom and depressive black metal. The comparison of the two albums, made me reflect on the changes that have occurred with both bands. Both have moved in a more accessible direction. Perhaps at this place in their careers they felt this was needed. The guitars melody from the intro to the Australian band's newest release is a shade of a different sonic splendor than what moved their 2011 release"the Book of Kings".  Their 2011 album is what this one is really having to measure up to for me as it caught me up with a more emotional majesty in my initial listen to it. I have liked the glimpses they have offered leading up to this album. "Whispering Spiritscapes" has some shadows to the other wise very clean and streamlined production. The vocals are a little higher in the mix. The guitars are well layered, but it is not like they are still hitting you with the same wall of sound.

The next song "the Rubaiyat" takes them about four minutes of lethargic atmosphere for them to get to the meat of the matter. This is not uncharacteristic of funeral doom so can respect it in that context.There is something about the flashing shredding solo that breaks the mood. It's a tasteful solo if we are measuring it against metal guitar solos in general. But does it really sustain what should be a mix of oppressive heaviness and sonic atmosphere? Granted it is clear this is more of a guitar players album than there past releases. In so doing they have created a sound that is more accessible to your average metal head. The tempo has not changed, thus maintaining the doom feel.

The title track sounds like a Metallica power ballad instrumental. It's great guitar playing, but not sure if it's what I want to hear from this band or what I need in my life since I own the first four Metallica albums, guess five if we are counting "Garage Days". If you are a guitar player who likes to masturbate to solos, then this will get you off . The albums heaviest moment comes from "Exaltation and Punishment" which comes closer to their older sound, just with more guitar solos. At 15 minutes the first 8 minutes go by pretty easily. The vocals have more malice to them.

 They close the album with "A Picture of  the Devouring Gloom Devouring the Spheres of Being" which is over 20 minutes making it longer than that song title. The vocals on this one are a low more familiar growl. Clean guitar is woven into things.Tempo wise it's understandable why this type of music takes longer to get through a song , but any way you slice it over 20 minutes is getting too close to the length of "Reign In Blood". When it drops down to the one guitar at the eight minute mark then that's where this song should have ended and then picked up with the last one as it's not like they are even continuing on with the same melodic theme. It finds it way into a more soaring section where they indulge in another guitar solo. Then the go into a solo acoustic guitar part, which should have been the break for a third song to begin. So what they have done is cram three songs into this one. Now they might not be fully realized songs, so perhaps they should have been fleshed out during the seven years it took them to make this album.

The big difference here is that this album is heavier in a metal sense than a sonic one. This is fact pivots on the guitar solos often becoming the centerpieces to the songs. I don't mind guitar solos if they are telling the story along with the song like Pink Floyd employs them, though even the same thing could be said of Black Sabbath. In the post-Yngwie era of metal wanking took precedence. It doesn't feel like wanking here, but that the guitar players felt they had something to prove and stepped in the spotlight here. The sonic strength of "the Book of Kings" makes it a better album than this one. It would be a 10, where I am going to give this one a 8.5. I have mixed feelings about this one and it will take time to grow on me.


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