Mourners – Act I: Tragedies
Reviewed: April 2021
Released: 2020, Personal Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
At its best, funeral doom can be a wholly transformative and emotional experience. There’s really something beautiful about creating an environment of overwhelming sadness whose misery is prolonged through minimalist structure and intentional musical despair. ACT I: TRAGEDIES is the debut release from Romania’s Mourners, and offers just such an experience. For as slick as the album sounds, it’s submerged in a deep wash of organ synth, crisp melodies, and beastly growls, while the supporting rhythms move ohhhh soooo slooooooooooowly…
The opening intro “Apparations” offers uncertainty with its melancholy choral waves and striking hammer on licks, but quickly downshifts into the somber and emotionally pummeling “The Way of Darkness.” I don’t know how Mourners knows where all of my “feels” buttons are, but they manage to press every one of them here as if they had the owner’s manual. And that vibe only persists as the album progresses. “Souls Breathing Nothingness” is slightly more optimistic in its tone, “Ansu Enthroned” incorporates some Anathema highlights and clean spoken word vocals, while the epic “Journey In Fear” explores even more diverse creative terrain (if but for a moment). But it’s all just varying flavors of the same, gorgeous emotional bleakness that permeates across the entirety of ACT I: TRAGEDIES. Like a soldier ant, each tune is torqued just enough to define its own independence as a being, while working in cooperation with the whole to create a collective work of art much bigger than itself.
Like many funeral doom albums, my biggest grief is that ACT I: TRAGEDIES is a lot to digest; maybe too much. But rather than it being a matter of overstaying its welcome through meandering filler, it’s more a matter of it being too damn effective. It works so well and is so emotionally triggering that after a few listens end to end, it really imprints on your well being. Since becoming familiar with Mourners, there have been several mornings where I’ve been jolted out of slumber with the melodies from “Apparitions” and “Forms of Delusion” rattling in my head like a pinball stuck in the game chassis.
Mourners have set the bar exceptionally high with ACT I: TRAGEDIES, and though this album is still relatively fresh, I’m eagerly anticipating what these guys come up with next. But if for some reason this is it, ACT I: TRAGEDIES stands as a testament of what the funeral doom is capable of and just how dexterous the genre can be in the right hands. Best enjoyed in its entirety and not for the weak spirited, Mourners readily embrace the depths of sadness.