The June Frost
posted on 6/2009 By:
For a sub-genre that's obviously limited to very specific moods, there sure seems to be a lot of fodder to wade through in the kooky world of down-tempo/funeral doom/whatever-the-hell-folks-are-calling-it-these-days. To be perfectly blunt, the scant occasions I find myself fully in the mood for this slooooowly creeping style, my pangs are sufficiently quelled by return visits to specific records from the likes of Corrupted (gods!), Hierophant/Catacombs (hail, Xathagorra!), Ahab, Esoteric, Asunder and a very select few others. If another band is expecting to wriggle their way into my funereal arsenal, they need to bring something really savory to the plate to capture my attention. Tear jerking violins painting the corners sure-as-hell ain't gonna cover it. And more siren-like vocals from classically trained women in gothy dress sounds nearly as appealing as yet another record featuring off-kilter Aaron Stainthorpe-ish sadsack warbling -- please, kill me now.
But this? This right here is a different story. This here's the real-fuckin-deal, matey's...
Eschewing the above-mentioned gripes and tossing middle fingers to the more "gothy" end of this particular metal spectrum, Australia's Mournful Congregation offer up a very inviting platter of down-tempo death metal that'll snugly fit the somber, introspective moods of those interested in glacially-paced extreme metal. The June Frost holds all the necessary elements for our funeral equation: long tunes that plod along like a snail through a snowdrift, guttural vocals spilled from a beastly maw, ponderous riffs and weeping guitar licks to smother the listener in gray, and a wholly downcast mood that betrays the surprisingly bright album cover.
The meat of this kill is centered around four lengthy bouts that pass slowly like rolling mist on the moors: the smooth and sentimental "White Cold Wrath Burnt Frozen Blood" (17:00), the more sinister delivery of "Descent of the Flames" (9:00), the extremely literal "Slow March to the Burial" (6:50), and the album's most melodic muck of sheer misery, the beauteous "Suicide Choir" (13:00). All four cuts feature the requisite variables I spoke of earlier, but what makes Mournful Congregation stand out from many of their peers is their willingness to hedge the typical "funeral" path in favor of some rather unlikely experimentation. Sure, the scattered acoustics and sheer amount of melodic guitars add some nice flavor, and the creepy little organ-infused "The Februar Winds" serves as an interesting interlude, but the train really hops to an entirely different track once the self-titled cut hits smack dab in the middle. Sounding more like a teary-eyed Satriani instrumental, this tune spotlights soaring dual leads that elevate the listener above the gray clouds for an utterly unexpected four-and-a-half minute melodic jaunt that'll surely have some checking (and re-checking) to make sure a different album didn't mistakenly take over -- definitely one of The June Frost's more pleasant and weirdly uplifting surprises.
In the end, I'd say the band's experimentation still isn't enough to draw in and keep those who are unapologetically uninterested in this slothful style. But The June Frost definitely infuses enough progression to give fans a little added punch that's likely to keep this record at arm's reach when you've got a hankerin' for dreary, plodding metal.
A pleasant little surprise! And certainly worthy of investigation.
Register to post comments.
The Book Of Kings
11/8/2011 Mournful Congregation
The Unspoken Hymns