Mourners – Act I: Tragedies Review

Daniel Neagoe is funeral doom’s answer to Rogga Johansson, with no less than ten active bands at the time of this review, according to Metal Archives. Most everyone can agree, however, that his biggest footprint lies with the funeral doom supergroup Clouds, and his mammoth beast Eye of Solitude. Sadly, the latter dissolved in 2019, as Neagoe felt the project came to its logical conclusion. That said, Neagoe teamed up with Clouds guitarist Mihai Dinuta and Eye drummer Siebe Hermans to launch Eye‘s spiritual continuation, Mourners. While the prospect of yet another Neagoe funeral doom project instills a bit of worry that he might be watering his songwriting and creativity down some, there’s no denying that Neagoe’s a veritable, crushing voice in funeral doom. So how does this stack up against the looming monolith that is Eye of Solitude‘s discography?

After repeated listens, it holds its own just fine. On first listen, not much appears to be different from Eye. The tempo rarely exceeds the pace of “glacial.” The guitars mostly hold chords for eternity and beyond. Neagoe still sounds like a grizzly bear whose voice is fed through a downwardly pitch-shifter and a bass amp. First impressions led me to feel like this wasn’t too dissimilar to Eye‘s last few albums, with the exception that the songs on Tragedies are somehow actually slower and more methodical, leading me to believe that a band and name change might not have been necessary.

However, further listens began to unearth some incredible nuances. While “The Way of Darkness” stays a bit in one place for a bit too long, it does open up beautifully towards the song’s final few minutes, wringing every emotional drop out of its riffs and melodies. “Forms of Delusion” brings back some of the tremolo and double-bass drumming that’s been sorely missed since Eye‘s phenomenal Canto III, but also throws in a beautiful guitar melody, fluttering like a ghost in candlelight in the song’s backdrop. After fourth track and second instrumental “Lost,” album highlight “Ansu Enthroned”1 contains some remarkably mournful guitar melodies, and a phenomenal middle part that sees a slightly off-tune piano offset by thundering drums. The differences became more readily apparent with each successive listen, as Tragedies revealed more and more each listen, to the point where a new project made absolute sense.

I just wish I could say the same about the album’s production choices. While the bass and guitars sound thick and crushing, it’s at the cost of the drums sounding a bit thin and distorted. The cymbals sound washed out, and the bass pedals sound a bit too mechanical. Speaking of the drums, on the opening track “Apparitions,” the drumming feels a bit off compared to the rest of the instruments at times. Finally, a bit of a tracklist jumble could benefit things, as “The Way of Darkness,” easily one of the most glacial songs Neagoe’s had a hand in, is immediately followed by “Souls Breathing Nothingness,” which is even more glacial, and that’s over a combined 20 minutes between the two. That’s a lot, and I say this as a funeral doom fan.

But all that said, Act I: Tragedies signals an impressive fresh start for Neagoe and company, taking all the oppressively slow and heavy undertones of Eye of Solitude while heading off to slower, heavier territories. If you weren’t a fan of funeral doom before, this won’t change a thing. Everyone else, you’re in a for a massive treat. I just hope Mourners stays a while, because this is one Tragedy worth enjoying.

 


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Personal Records
Websites: mournersfuneral.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/mourners.offical.band
Releases Worldwide: February 5th, 2021

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  1. Stop chuckling.
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