MOURNING DAWN- Mourning Dawn (TotalRust Music)
France is generally a country recognized in the metal world for its contributions to the world of black metal, churning out a seemingly endless array of talented artists pushing the envelope of progressive black metal. However, MOURNING DAWN stand apart from their fellow countrymen by playing their own style of blackened doom metal on their self-titled debut album. There are certainly elements of black metal in their sound, such as the prominent use of one-note dissonant melodies and vocals that lend themselves more towards extreme metal than traditional doom, but the mood created within is much closer to that of a doom metal album, or perhaps even more accurate would be to compare it to the numerous one-man black metal projects that have gained notoriety in the underground as of late (in fact, MOURNING DAWN originally was also a one-man project). The bottom line is that this is an extremely somber and depressing music and does well to translate the feelings of desolation and emptiness using different techniques within the general context of metal, along with some curveballs thrown in occasionally.
The album has a very dry production that gives it a sense of detachment and overall grayness, much like the stark imagery of the artwork. Unfortunately the bass is generally a non-factor, but the swirling, muddy guitar tone is certainly befitting of the music along with the subdued drums. There is a welcome absence of any sort of keyboard or orchestral augmentation, which aids in keeping with the stark tone of the record; any such embellishments would have diminished the effect. However, they do make good use of the piano, particularly in “Grey Flood”, which includes a cool jazz-sounding piano sample part in the beginning before the soul-crushing main riff comes in. Much of the guitar work is centered around deliberate, glacial riffing layered with buzzing lifeless melodies that show the album’s clear influences from black metal. A perfect example of this is in the instrumental finale “Verdun”, one of the best songs on the album. More of the black metal influence can be found on “From The Torrent And The Fountain”, also featuring a spoken-word passage, a rare break from the constant howling screams. “When The Sky Seems To Be A Flag” showcases the greatest range stylistically, with both faster and slower parts along with some demented screams and clean even a bit of clean singing to go along with the lower-register growls and hoarse rasping. The moments on the album when the guitar is isolated by itself are generally the strongest emotional points, as the tone really manages to take over and become engulfing. “...As The Ocean” is the most adventurous tune on the album, as it makes use of effective tempo changes and integrates a strange sample of a violin playing with the sound of rain in the background, this before the song even concludes. It seems awkward but it actually works well to introduce the final theme of the song. Its little twists like these that really complete the album and ultimately make it a good listen.
In the end, its apparent that MOURNING DAWN have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to making sorrowful music, but they still need to develop a greater sense of identity and focus in songwriting. Despite there being really no weak parts on the album, it does tend to plod needlessly from time to time, which is an issue that has befallen many a doom metal band in particular, as the style often lends itself to such pitfalls. Thankfully though, the mood is never sacrificed and the atmosphere remains cold and distant throughout. Overall, this is a solid debut from one of the most promising new acts in doom metal.