Artist: Mourning Dawn
Album Title: Dead End Euphoria
Label: Aesthetic Death
Date of Release: 26 March 2021
The strange nuances of music never cease to amaze me. I first listened to this album whilst working at home for the umpteenth day in a row. At the conclusion, I felt exhausted, and I was somewhat relieved by the silence that followed. Maybe this record isn’t for me, I thought. Ever the masochist in pursuit of bringing you reviews of as much heavy music as possible, I added the album to my playlist and headed out with the dog, headphones set at a respectable volume. Based on my initial feelings, I wasn’t expecting much if truth be told, but this time, something was different and I began to sense my opinions shifting a little.
Taking a step back, the album in question is ‘Dead End Euphoria’, the fifth full-length release from Mourning Dawn, a blackened doom metal band from France. Beginning in 2002 as a solo project at the hands of Laurent, it wasn’t until 2007 that the self-titled debut record was released. And it wasn’t until after the release of the debut that Laurent decided to turn his creation into a fully-fledged band. Here is 2021, Mourning Dawn is now a quartet, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Laurent, alongside bassist Vincent, lead guitarist Frédéric, and drummer Nicolas.
I must say, even now, that the listening experience here with ‘Dead End Euphoria’ is no walk in the park. It is intense, extreme, and for the most part, relentless. However, where I first thought that the album was impenetrable and monotonous, further close and dedicated listens have found this to be an inaccurate early conclusion. It’s not like listening to your favourite melodic metal band of course, but the more you listen, the more the subtleties creep to the surface. Likened to a smorgasbord of extreme metal acts from early Katatonia to Shining, and from Godflesh to Deinonychus, you get a better understanding of what awaits should you venture into the world of Mourning Dawn.
‘Dawn Of Doom’ is the aptly-titled opening composition and you don’t get any gentle intros or an easing into the record. You get big, chunky guitar notes, heavily distorted and allowed to resonate, whilst the bass and drums add a little extra structure. The early Katatonia influences are at their most prominent at this point, as a mournful, almost discordant lead guitar line emerges above a lumbering but groovy sequence. The vocals are savage growls that fit in with the raw, dense production that adds an extra layer of intensity to the song. Breaks in the heaviness do emerge, but they are few and far between, with the band more content with bludgeoning the listener to death with heavy riffs. The lead solo is an unexpected treat at the mid-way point, surprisingly melodic, and it leads to further subtle melody as the track pulls to a mournful close, via a really cool, but fleeting bass-led interlude.
Next up is ‘Never Too Old To Die’ and this might have grown into my favourite song of the record. Once again, no time is wasted on quiet, scene-setting intros as we’re straight in with the heavy riffs and caustic vocals. The early stages offer melody, but it is dark, twisted, and vaguely discordant. However, I have warmed to it, especially when the music opens up to the fullest extent that it will ever do, to offer something warmer and more inviting to counteract the intensity and heaviness of the material around it.
Sadly, when it comes to the centrepiece of the album, the 26-minute ‘The Five Steps To Death’, I am less enamoured. The band experiments for the first time with acoustic guitars, with clean, hushed spoken-word parts delivered in their mother tongue, and with all-out funeral doom passages where the pace is slowed to barely a crawl. But it’s just too long and throughout, it doesn’t offer much in the way of melody at all. It’s an ambitious song and if you’re not too worried about your music having any hooks within it, then you’ll love it. But to me, it’s a dark and heavy dirge that’s a bit of a slog to get through. A moment or two of clarity within the incessant misery would have worked wonders in my opinion, but alas, it is not to be.
The near 70-minute, six-track doom marathon comes to a close via ‘Adieu’. It’s an almost impenetrable wall of noise, led exclusively by distorted guitars for nearly half of its five minute length. But within the noise is a gorgeously simple, repetitive melody that is only enhanced to epic proportions when the remainder of the band join in to signal the beginning of the end.
As I said before, I will not pretend that Mourning Dawn create music that’s easy to listen to. They make no attempt to do so, neither should they. ‘Dead End Euphoria’ is a grim, uncompromising affair, the kind of blackened doom that purists and masochists will lap up for sure. I like lots of it, even though it took a while to appreciate, so I’m happy to recommend it. Should nasty, heavy music of this nature fall within your particular comfort zone, then make sure you check out ‘Dead End Euphoria’.
The Score of Much Metal: 80%
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: