Mournful Congregation is a funeral doom metal band hailing from Adelaide, Southern Australia. Their sound is defined through agonizingly-slow tempos and crushing, depressing guitar riffs and melodies. Drums are minimalistic, but essential to the creeping pace, and the vocals are deep, harsh, and drawn out through guttural growls.
Released on March 23, 2018, Mournful Congregation’s “The Incubus of Karma” seeps from the infinite void with a sound like that of a eulogy for the passing of a great cosmic deity. During this delve into a sea of despair, one is left feeling small amidst the flowing melodic leads that lie atop the mountainous riffage and impactfully encompassing drum production. By the album’s close, all you can do is sit and ponder the intricacies and beauty of this 1 hour and 19-minute exodus of lamentation.
“The Incubus of Karma” is made both astounding and gripping through a slew of traits one could only wish for in an album. It is harsh and violent while being soft and lulling. It creates an atmosphere through the polarity of its instrumentation. It is able to channel emotion without being humanizing. And finest of all, it is progressive to no end.
Sewn. That is what Mournful Congregation have done here. Sewn together lingering and touching guitar melodies with lumbering, down tuned guitar riffs to create a synthesis of elegance and distress. These melodies sound like sad lullabies, while the raw heaviness of the down-tuned and distorted guitars remind you there is no respite from pain. Each part is high quality on its own, but the message and atmosphere of the album is generated by this synthesis; each part completes the other. It is quite simply yin and yang.
The crooning guitar melodies present throughout evoke deep feelings of such divine struggle and defeat, such melancholy and sorrow; though are comforting in their recognition and acceptance of loss. This acceptance is marked by the rhythm maintained by the droning backing guitars, rumbling bass, and trudging, plodding drums that signal the continuation of life regardless of tragedy. The atmosphere is complete by the introduction of droning synthesizers that permeate the air of each song they appear on. Each of these pieces work together to weave an atmosphere that welcomes you to join Mournful Congregation’s own mourning.
Here, on the Incubus of Karma, detachment eschews the effect of mere human emotion. By using growls as vocals, Mournful Congregation are able to exhibit a sound and atmosphere of melancholy without giving it a human voice or feel. This allows the listener to interpret the effect of this emotionally burdened album for themselves, without being chained to an emotional center-point put forth by a human sounding lead vocalist. With such space and freedom granted to the listener, the album is able to connect with them that much more personally and individually.
As the album drags on in the most engaging of ways, the expansive nature of the songs begins to take form. With such length, these tracks progress and evolve throughout their runtimes, (four of which do not go below the 14 min mark.) taking you from fields of trepidation, to empty, lonesome, soul sucking voids and back into your own, personal dejection--all in one track. The progression in these tracks, although slowly paced and full of space, keep the album from becoming repetitive in its monstrous runtime. As one melody drips into another, or the drums carry you on to the next riff, or even simple silence sets in for a brief respite, your mind drinks from the frothing pools of songs that bubble up with newfound patterns and tempos and arrangements in service to further the desolation and depression already growing thick.
Gargantuan and monolithic, yet heart felt and emotional, “The Incubus of Karma” immerses your heart and mind in a world of epic, universe-affecting sequences of sounds of loss and sorrow. In the end, you have nothing left but a feeling of weight, and an appreciation of what this album allowed you to feel.