The term "doom" gets tossed around pretty loosely these days and it takes an album like MOURNING BELOVETH's "A Disease for the Ages" to remind us what that style of music is really all about. The Irish band has always had a knack for creating the sound of crippling melancholia and utter hopefulness in its hymns to the complete breakdown of the human form. I'll never forget absorbing 2002's "The Sullen Sulcus" (my introduction to the band) and wondering just how the hell they were able to convey such raw emotion through music. It's that whole thing about resigning oneself to the sobering realization that we're all going right down the proverbial shitter, so we might as well sing about it. And surprise, surprise, things haven't changed much on "A Disease for the Ages", at least as far as the continual effort to create the musical antithesis of optimism is concerned. Seriously now, what do you expect from an album about "the slow deconstruction of the body and mind over time?"
It should be evident to anyone that knows anything about MOURNING that patience is a virtue when it comes to the band's lengthy ditties for the dismal. "A Disease for the Ages" consists of five tracks with a running time of 56 minutes, so if you're hoping for a quick death, look elsewhere. Fortunately, long does not have to mean boring, unless you just can't stomach the doom genre in general. The compositions are indeed slow-paced, yet the unit demonstrates once again its keen ability to infuse its lumbering rhythms and impossibly heavy riffs with a grand majesty that, given some time, sucks the listener in for the long haul. Much of that has to do with the brilliantly written melodic guitar leads and the way they to coax just a few more breaths out of the nearly lifeless even when all seems lost.
It with the manner in which those definitive (and intelligible) death-growls are occasionally joined by gut wrenching clean vocals that at times sound like a Messiah Marcolin (ex-CANDLEMASS) or Robert Lowe (SOLITUDE AETURNUS, CANDLEMASS). The effect is almost shocking when it occurs for the first time on "The Sickness" and again on "Trace Decay". The spoken-word bits that we've heard on past releases work just as well on "Primeval Rush", a song the features a forcible pace shift into quicker territory with a strong riff to boot. The solemn singing and shouted backing vocal on the quintessential MB dirge that is "The Burning Man" cannot be discounted either.
I'll not bother with a discussion about how doom isn't for everyone and blah, blah, blah. Rather, one needs only understand that MOURNING BELOVETH is one of the giants of European doom and "A Disease for the Ages" is another fine release from the act.