Funeral Doom Friday: Josh Lloyd of VOID TENDRIL Discusses MOURNFUL CONGREGATION's The Monad of Creation
Finally, the weekend is upon us. What better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of "Funeral Doom Friday". For those who are new to this column; each week features a new or classic album from the realm of extreme doom. Much of funeral/death doom's might comes from an oppressive emotional weight and the use of death or black metal motifs (played at a trudging pace, of course.) Pioneers like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Esoteric have mastered this blend of dirge and destruction. For 25 years, they have methodically built compositions that stretch for dozens of minutes all while keeping fans enthralled. Time has elapsed since the days of Thergothon and much like the world around us, the genre has evolved. Today's modern bands contort the very construct of the genre, breeding darkly refreshing new work. Their work thankfully gives this column plenty of material to share.
Welcome back! We all made it to 2018 in one piece it seems. I'll be taking a bit of a backseat this week and letting a very special guest step in and discuss one of his favorite funeral doom albums. Josh Lloyd is one-half of the burgeoning Void Tendril—a new blackened funeral doom project out of the UK. You might remember their feature in this column from a while back. You might also be aware that Australian monoliths, Mournful Congregation, return this March with a brand new album. The long-awaited return of the band finally draws near. To tide us over to this day, Josh—possibly the world's biggest Mournful Congregation fan—joins the column today to discuss the band's second album, 'The Monad of Creation.'
Listen to the album following Josh's write-up. Mournful Congregation performs at Netherlands Deathfest this March. Their fifth full-length record, 'The Incubus of Karma,' also arrives in March on 20 Buck Spin and Osmose Productions. Be sure to also pick up a copy of Void Tendril's debut, 'Ensnaring the Demiurge.'
Josh Lloyd on The Monad of Creation
As a self-proclaimed “funeral fiend,” I received the opportunity to cover an album from any funeral doom band I wish. My mind was made up from the very moment the opportunity presented itself. Mournful Congregation was one of my first loves in funeral doom after listening to it for a large part of three or four years. I was simply captivated by the sheer power and visceral emotion of bands like Evoken, diSEMBOWELMENT, and Thergothon. Later on, I discovered more obscure and bleak bands like Merkstave, Corrupted, and Worship. Yet, to choose any other band than my first love would have haunted me for the rest of eternity. Mournful Congregation heavily inspires me and countless others in creating music. They serve as one of the primary influences on my music writing—both melodically and structurally. The manner in which the band creates songs is second to none.
With a new record on the horizon, entitled The Incubus of Karma, I wanted to look back to their second record—my personal favorite from the world of funeral doom. The Monad of Creation follows up their debut record, Tears From A Grieving Heart, and it marks a significant change in dynamics and songwriting for the Aussie legends. The addition of guitarist Justin Hartwig bolstered their already thunderous. The band’s style consequently became more complex and intricate—with the track lengths growing accordingly. The Monad of Creation is four monoliths of somber majesty that add up to just over an hour long.
It begins with the most earth-shattering of entrances. “Mother-Water, the Great Sea Wept” is a powerful display of their talent, laid bare on the table right out of the gate. Its moments range from the heaviest funereal riffs to beautiful melodic clean sections and from the most sorrowful howls to the most solemn, heart-crushing spoken word. This power truly weaves itself throughout the rest of the album—never waning.
With the sole focus of pushing extreme doom to its limit, Mournful Congregation undoubtedly excel at their mission. Damon Good (vocals/guitar/bass), the sole founding member, acts as the creative visionary for the band. Good composes most of the music himself in his home studio. He draws a lot of inspiration from bands like Candlemass, Thergothon, and classical composers. This shows through their style of arrangements and the dense nature of their sound.
Good’s vision appears in uniquely heavy ways. Even when Mournful Congregation’s guitars lack all distortion—see “When the Weeping Dawn Beheld its Mortal Thirst” –they still manage to be heavier than most doom riffs. Their sparse use of drums leaves a wide-open space for their three-part layered guitar harmonies. It only adds to Mournful Congregation’s intense, unique brand of funeral doom. Take, for instance, the section of music once Good’s vocals taper off in “As I Drown in Loveless Rain”. The drums slowly play themselves out and allow these towering guitars to emit even more power throughout the song.
The closing title track is a perfect representation of The Monad of Creation in its entirety. Amongst its 20-plus minute runtime, it features my personal favorite riff of the record, which can also be heard in the reversed section of “When the Weeping Dawn Beheld its Mortal Thirst” –it shows how truly magnificent this band is. Even as the album winds down, there is an unstoppable, thriving power throughout. The echoing of Good’s spoken word and acoustic guitar solos against the backing band stands as a highlight in their discography—illustrating the sheer power of funeral doom in one fell swoop. It soon fades into the most beautiful arrangement of reversed guitar tracks.
Mournful Congregation celebrates 25 years of existence this year and they still retain every ounce of their prestige and heaviness. The Monad of Creation is doomed perfection from the sorrowful beginning to the triumphant ending. It is a record held in the highest regard—comparable to Thergothon’s Stream from the Heavens—and is a truly amazing experience with each listen. Long may their reign of funerary doom continue!