Sunday 3 February 2013

Mourning Beloveth - "Formless" (Album Review)

 By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/01/2013
Label: Grau

Overall, if you like your doom epic, cerebral and despairing, then you should not hesitate to check this album out.
“Formless” CD track listing

1) Theories of Old Bones (14:51)
2) Ethics on the Precipe (17:23)
3) Old Rope (4:50)
4) Dead Channel (14:25)
5) Nothing Has A Centre (15:34)
6) Transmissions (14:25)

Mourning Beloveth is:

Darren Moore | vocals
Frank Brennan | Guitar, vocals
Pauric Gallagher | Guitar
Brendan Roche | Bass
Tim Johnson | Drums

The Review

Mourning Beloveth, having been around for twenty years has served up an atmospheric and melancholy gem here in the shape (!) of “Formless”. The album runs as follows:

“Theories of Old Bones” starts off with clean and creepy guitar with whispered vocals, but the death vocals kick in with the distortion at the two and a half minute mark. The track is close to fifteen minutes long. Clean vocals make an unexpected and welcome change at the four minute mark and trade with the death stylings. There are glimmers of hope in the riffing, but overall this is pitch black depressing stuff. The half way point brings some chugging and discordant single note work as a contrast. It's accomplished stuff and the band work well to sustain a track of this length with a keen ear for texture and subtle changes while staying true to the overall feel throughout. The guitar melody/motif around eleven minutes is perfect for the track and remains present as a strong refrain from then on until feedback ushers out the first track and brings us into the second.

“Ethics on the Precipe” starts ominously and, unsurprisingly, the mood does not lift from there over the next seventeen minutes plus. Some lovely bass work mixed with clean guitar around six minutes acts as a kind of bridge in the musical and figurative sense to the following doom/death passage. Indeed it operates almost like a track by itself. Herein lies one of the keys to the record and getting as much out of it as you can: the tracks operate as musical pieces rather than songs per se and as they meander the listener is invited to go with the band. “Formless” indeed. Eleven minutes brings an almost Maiden-esque clean passage (superb) and it almost sounds as if there will be a burst of pace as the drums move into a triplet type feel. I did write almost!  Things slow for the close and the dark chug of “Old Rope” begins with a spoken word vocal.  The more deathy style with a nice mild distortion effect plays off this and a spiky clean guitar offsets the weighty distorted bottom end in much the same way. Clocking in at less than Five minutes, the track resembles a song- but again it moves through passages and maintains a solid groove that draws the listener in to the overall vibe- nothing wasted here.

The over fourteen minute “Dead Channel” follows with an operatic vocal start. The lyrics are cut from the blackest cloth- “Everything is waste...” “Emptiness...” No hope here. The low end solo towards the end is a treat, too.  Nothing Has a Centre” follows with another fifteen minutes of gloom; the guitars trade off and harmonise well with each other to start and the groove continues as the vocals come in. Double bass drums and excellent riffing change things completely around the six minute mark and scientific themes abound. Things slow again and a more clean, even wistful section dominates prior to the ten minute mark and a more propulsive set of drum rhythms and riffs comes to the fore from there.

The album finishes with “Transmissions”- over fourteen minutes again; but more consistent in approach than other tracks. Clean guitars, spoken word, atmosphere... Dragged Into Sunlight is not the only band to use atmosphere and suspense to great effect. Drums make an appearance well into the track as the clean lyrics are easy to follow, thought provoking and bleak as you can imagine. The track, for me, is an absolute standout.

Overall, if you like your doom (with a little death, but not too much) epic, cerebral and despairing, then you should not hesitate to check this album out. I know I have made a laboured point about the song lengths contained here, but consider this: The band have taken the time to write and record this music. With the amount there is contained within the double CD or the double vinyl, parting with money for it should not seem like a hard decision- it should seem like a bargain. Support the band and pay out for some quality well crafted doom!

Formless” is available to buy here.

Band info: Facebook