01. Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time 02. The Exuviae Of Gods 03. An Epic Dream Of Desire
We haven't heard from funeral doom leaders MOURNFUL CONGREGATION since 2018's wondrous "The Incubus Of Karma". Australia's long-running champions of misery now return with "The Exuviae Of Gods — Part I", which is the first of a two-part EP series crafted to tide fans over between full-lengths. It's important to note that the band continues to sew together songs that are quite lengthy; the shortest track of the three-song effort runs around the seven-minute mark, while the other two are roughly 15 minutes long. In other words, it is basically a long player by most standards since we are discussing 37-plus minutes' worth of music. But what matters with "The Exuviae Of Gods — Part I" is the fact that the morose and majestic doom metal remains tasteful and interesting for the bulk of the EP.
"The Exuviae Of Gods — Part I" is comprised of two new numbers, "Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time" and "The Exuviae Of Gods", in addition to a re-recording of one of their oldest songs. "Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time" opens things up with dramatic appeal, filled with the kind of melody and melancholy that defined early CATHEDRAL. While the song's tempo reliably drags forth in a slow, dreamlike manner, there's simultaneously a sense of perseverance and triumph looming. It's not unlike our beloved protagonist at the beginning of "Conan The Barbarian" growing with strength and resolve, both in spite of and because of his shackles and plight.
"The Exuviae Of Gods" starkly contrasts the opener, as it is an ethereal, acoustic-driven song that serves to divide the massive distortion of the EP's bookending tracks. It's soothing enough within the scope of the holistic listening experience of "The Exuviae Of Gods — Part I", yet it's highly unlikely that many would ever yearn to hear it again on its own. "An Epic Dream Of Desire" rounds everything out and provides a feeling of cohesion and completion with its subtle tides of sound and emotion. It's a track from their 1995 demo bearing the same name, appropriately fitting the new EP and gives new life to a more developed song. Measuring the song against the original, the updated version loses some of the charm of the old demo's inherent rawness.
Again, it seems that MOURNFUL CONGREGATION is open about "The Exuviae Of Gods — Part I" being a stopgap release between full-length albums; an approach that always makes sense to maintain momentum and interest. Even though "The Exuviae Of Gods — Part I" isn't their most remarkable material, it's the high-point for the funeral doom genre thus far in 2022.