Mournful Congregation deliver another hefty dose of torment on EP ‘The Exuviae of Gods Part I’

It probably sounds like a back-handed compliment to say someone has a gift for delivering misery, but try to argue Mournful Congregation don’t possess exactly that. They didn’t invent funeral doom, but I can’t think of a band that’s done it better for a longer period of time than this Australian force, one you should absolutely pursue seeing in a live setting if that fortune finds you. It’s an experience.

Seeking to bridge 2018’s “The Incubus of Karma” (our No. 1 record of that year) with their next full-length effort, the band is putting out two EPs, the first just about to arrive with “The Exuviae of Gods – Part I.” It’s kind of comical referring to this three-track release as an EP as it still runs a beefy 37 minutes, full-length run time in many subgenres, and as expected it’s a thorough serving that leaves you rotting and broken inside once you’ve experienced the whole thing. The band—vocalist/guitarist Damon Good, guitarists Justin Hartwig and Ben Petch, bassist Ben Newsome, drummer Tim Call—locks in with their trademark slow excursion into misery, delivering compelling and psyche-wrenching power that no one creates quite like they do and that feels excruciating but necessary to digest in whole.  

“Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time” is the 14:05-long opener, and it starts with organs sprawling and growls lurching, a slow storm brewing and moving across the land. Breezy leads cause your flesh to crawl as the guitars layer heavy emotion, the growls crumbling along with an elegant haze. Leads burst and sprawl, detached speaking echoes in your brain, and the playing clouds and mars. Guitars work back in as whispers grow greater, the music fading into time. The title track is a 7:11-long instrumental that begins with acoustics and warm electrics, changing the pace back and forth. Strange vibes work in and change the atmospheric pressure, the leads glow, and the heat melts the thickened ice. Closer “An Epic Dream of Desire” is the longest track at 15:47 and starts with restrained heat, the speaking coming in lurches. The playing slowly moves as the aura gets darker, the guitars slowly dissolving into acoustics before synth strings stretch their wings. The power begins to gather, the guitars churn, and the speaking sends chills down your spine, haunting and ringing. The mood thickens as the pace picks up, the strings explode, and everything disappears in a dramatic gust.

Even a smaller serving of Mournful Congregation is as meaty and nourishing as other band’s full-length efforts, and “The Exuviae of Gods – Part I” is one hell of an appetizer. This band’s grasp of funeral doom is tight and suffocating as they have turned their sound into something almost entirely theirs. It’s great to have this three-track beast and just as exciting to know there’s another volume coming before we head into their new mammoth full-length crusher.

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