The Unspoken Hymns
posted on 11/2011 By:
We've already seen superb releases drop from all of metal's varied branches this year. But when the dust eventually settles, 2011's most celebrated sub-genres will be those that give a solemn nod to a very determined plod; the year when 'funeral' and 'down-tempo' tags blanket doom and sludge devotee's lists. The hares (hare metal?) don't stand a chance against tortoises such as 40 Watt Sun, Loss, Whitehorse, Corrupted, Comatose Vigil, Colosseum and Batillus, along with fresh jumps to the throat from new-comers such as Bell Witch, Faces of Bayon and Of Spire & Throne. And that's not even taking into consideration the snailing releases of the 'stoner' variety also stepping to the line.
But for many enthusiasts of crawling metal, the photo finish at the very end will likely belong to two titans of style: Australia's Mournful Congregation and the UK's mighty Esoteric, both of which stand poised and ready to smoke skulls with highly anticipated 2011 releases. And to help celebrate the camp down undah's brand-spankin'-new offering, the Congregation lads and the always venerable 20buckspin have decided to release The Unspoken Hymns: a collection that accumulates all the tunes that span each of Mournful Congregation's four splits over their 15+ year career, plus a cover of Thergothon's "Elemental."
Things open with a partially re-recorded version of "Left Unspoken" from 2008's Four Burials (with Otesanek, Loss and Orthodox), which perfectly sets the table for what's to come: 42-minutes of (what many would consider painfully) slooow funeral doom that's supplemented with ample measures of beautifully melodic guitar-work to help spice the brew. The band's darker, more severe side is well-represented with "A Slow March to the Burial" from 2004's split with Stabat Mater and the equally grim "Descent of the Flames" from 2007's split 10" with Stone Wings, while their predilection towards soaring elegance shines through with "The Epitome of Gods and Man Alike" from 2002's split 7" with Worship, which suitably showcases the splendid lead guitar work the band often delivers to help separate them from the bulk of their peers.
The comp closes out on a fittingly grim note with a true-to-the-original rendition of "Elemental" from Theregothon's classic Stream from the Heavens, with guitarist/vocalist Damon Good going the extra mile and further dehumanizing his voice to new lows to better parallel the classic belching style once vomited by the Finnish goliaths of yore.
If you're new to the band, I'd be more apt to point you in the direction of one of Mournful Congregation's three proper full-lengths as a more suitable starting point -- the phenomenal Monad of Creation, for example -- which is the sole reason behind my 7.5 score. But The Unspoken Hymns is invaluable for those stalwart fans who missed out on the limited run of each of the band's splits, some of which never found their way to a proper CD release. Plus, our friends at 20buckspin are currently offering both The Unspoken Hymns and the just released Book of Kings together for $14.99: a phenomenal price that delivers both a suitable slice of the past directly alongside what's sure to be one of 2011's best for those who love extreme metal delivered with a very slow hand.
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The Book Of Kings
11/8/2011 Mournful Congregation
The June Frost