In keeping with the habits of the major funeral doom bands, Mournful Congregation have never been particularly prolific either, if one considers the five full lengths released between 1999 and 2018, but the several split albums released in the first decade of the century and the two ep’s released in more recent times abundantly compensate, an not only by quantitatively point of view, of course. If Concrescence of the Sophia broke the long hiatus between The Book Of Kings and The Incubus of Karma, the new The Exuviae of Gods – Part I not only marks the discographic return after four years but, right from the title, promises to be just the first part of a pair of ep’s destined to be completed in the near future. On the other hand, the thirty-seven minutes of this work are worth for intensity of entire discographies of most active bands on the planet, so any possible objection to the choice of releasing a shorter work instead of a full length vanishes in the face of such mastery. Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time gives a quarter of an hour of shattering emotionality, containing the peculiar stylistic traits of the Australian band that presents itself with a five-piece line-up, with the return to all intents and purposes even in the recording room of Ben Petch, guitarist and founder of Mournful Congregation along with the historical leader Damon Good, with the confirmation of the indispensable Justin Hartwig, and his unmistakable guitar style, as well as the proven rhythmic base formed by Ben Newsome and Tim Call. The sorrowful pacing of the opening track makes it clear that the inspiration and more melodic nature displayed in all their magnificence with The Incubus of Karma have not failed, and reinforcing that impression is the beauty of the title track, a poignant instrumental that leaves no room for interlocutory moments. The final blow to the listener, however, Mournful Congregation deal it with An Epic Dream of Desire, a track that technically would not be an unreleased, as it dates back to the second demo of the same title released in 1995 when the band was, in fact, still a duo formed by Good and Petch; this splendid song, recorded with the new lineup and with today’s technologies, regains new life after a full twenty-seven years shining in all its unbearable and astonishing emotional power, so much so that in its middle phase it becomes almost impossible to hold back tears. Even though many tend to underestimate the importance of ep’s, I claim the right to say that The Exuviae of Gods – Part I is an absolute masterpiece, as well as the best thing heard in funeral doom in the last two years, a period in which most of the historical bands have tried their hand with releases between good and excellent without touching this unreachable level; we just have to wait for Part II, just hoping that Good and associates will not take too much time but, even if they are, thanks anyway…

2022 – 20 Buck Spin / Osmose Productions