Following a prologue in the form of ‘The Unspoken Hymns’, a compilation of out of print tracks released by 20 Buck Spin in September, Mournful Congregation presents ‘The Book Of Kings’ their newest and best album to date. A landmark release in the Extreme Doom subgenre, ‘The Book Of Kings’ is a nearly 80-minute journey through both imperial nobility and crestfallen, tarnished hope.
‘The Catechism Of Depression’ opens the book, a familiar-sounding Mournful Congregation piece, a slowly developing, grief-stricken dirge that twists and writhes beautifully for almost 20 minutes. It flows next into ‘The Waterless Streams’, a song that betrays the band’s prog influence with a stunning, stadium-worthy opening guitar-lead before the impossibly heavy main riff bears down and a more spoken vocal chant takes the place of the customary low-doom growl that is synonymous with Mournful Congregation. If the prog influence shows itself briefly in ‘The Waterless Streams’, it comes out much more fully on ‘The Bitter Veils Of Solemnity’, a track that stays quietly dark and cleanly melodic for its entire 12 minute duration, an accomplished composition of stark vision and beauty by incredible songwriters.Those three tracks alone would compose an impressive album of material, and yet the jewel in the crown comes in the form of the album’s fourth and final track, the album length ‘The Book Of Kings’. A monument in extreme/funeral doom’s history this track weaves a tale of regality through the life, death, crowning and dethronement of nameless kings. Lyrically and musically a song so painstakingly involved has rarely been attempted, and never with such glorious results. An immersive track to lose yourself within.‘The Book Of Kings’ is the pinnacle in Mournful Congregation’s long history, dating back nearly 20 years, and an album that will be identified in years to come as the standard by which others will be judged.Asia/Aus released by Weird Truth. Euro by Osmose.