Ireland’s Mourning Beloveth are one of the longest-lived European death doom bands, being able to boast a 20-year experience studded with works of undoubted value (I would cite among all the second album The Sullen Sulcus), but evidently insufficient so far to make them rise to a status higher than that (moreover enviable) of cult band. Surely ours don’t give a damn about these considerations, judging by the music contained in their latest effort Formless (which comes a full five years after A Disease For The Ages), as well as by the duration, close to an hour and a half, spread over 2 CDs, which certainly does not encourage distracted and casual listening: the irrefutable truth that emerges from this work is that Mourning Beloveth were able to stamp their indelible mark on this long and harrowing journey that ends with the last note of Transmission. While it is true that the compositional groove within which the Irish band moves is evidently that traced by the usual My Dying Bride and early Anathema, one cannot help but notice how much the different geographic origin and consequent musical tradition influences the sound in comparison with their Albionic counterparts. Indeed, thanks in part to Frank Brennan’s magnificent vocal contribution on clean vocals, we often seem to be listening to a slower version of fellow countrymen Primordial (emblematic in this regard is the magnificent Nothing Has A Centre), but it would be ungenerous to reduce Mourning Beloveth‘s work to a simple fusion of these two influences. One only has to listen to a gem like Dead Channel to realize the veracity of this statement, particularly when in its middle section the song opens in a crescendo veiled in epic sadness; likewise, one cannot remain silent about the majesty of the opener Theories Of Old Bones and the subsequent Ethics On The Precipice, tracks of considerable length yet devoid of moments of weariness. If you will, Old Rope alone reveals itself as an episode in the norm, without any particular impetus and obsequious to the dictates of the most classic death doom, but in some ways its placement proves functional by inserting itself as a sort of brief interlude between the two pairs of aces present in the tracklist of the first CD, which is concluded by the aforementioned Nothing Has A Centre: take Alan Averill and co., strip them of the most rabid component and replace it with the dark textures of the most evocative doom and you get a formidable result. The alternation between Frank’s clean singing and Darren Moore’s fierce growl always works to perfection (which is far from obvious) throughout the album but in this track it reaches levels very close to perfection. A separate discourse deserves Transmission, a track that occupies the entire second CD despite having a “limited” duration at about a quarter of an hour; in fact, the differences from the sounds shown above are remarkable, so much so that the decision to make it appear as a sort of bonus-track, isolating it from the rest of the work, is appreciable. Indeed, such a peculiar track, entirely acoustic and in some ways definable as a kind of doom blues, needs to be listened to as a stand-alone work in order to be fully appreciated: certainly a fascinating experiment that demonstrates the value of the Irish band and especially its willingness not to flatten itself too much on the usual reference models. Mourning Beloveth after years studded with commendable productions but remained confined in undeserved limbo, with Formless they churn out the record that could consecrate them among the most influential names in the European death doom scene. 

2013 – Grau Records