MOURNFUL CONGREGATION (Eng.)

– Hello, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to?

Preparing for our US tour with Anhedonist and Aldebaran in December right now. That and currently drinking an ale.

– First of all, could you make some history of the band for all those who aren’t really familiar with you yet?

Well, we started in 1993, and if you search for our discography, this will paint some sort of picture of our history. We just released our fourth full length in 2011.

 

– What are the main musical influences for the band?

We are mainly influenced by those musicians and bands who have crafted dark, depressing and emotive music throughout history regardless of genre really. If it has these key ingredients, it will usually inspire us in some way. Of course our listening habits aren’t solely dedicated to this style, so there are very varying influences between us over the last 18 years or so of our existence. In the early days however, our MAIN influences were early Cathedral, early Candlemass, early Anathema, Thergothon and Disembowelment.

 

– And why did you pick “Mournful Congregation” for the name of the band? Both its origin and meaning, as it seems to fit your music perfectly.

It suggests the collective mourning of mankind, and the two words had not been used in a band name at that stage that we knew of, so it had a certain originality to it.

 

– You have just released “The Book of Kings”; what are your expectations? And how’s its feedback being so far?

I don’t really have expectations for it that I’ve consciously thought of. We have just delivered this music to the best of our abilities. Now that the writing, recording and artistic side of things are completed, I just expect that it will find its way into the hearts of those whom seek this type of album. The feedback that I have heard and read so far seems generally to my liking. Most people seem to understand and appreciate what we were trying to achieve.

 

– How could you describe this new album in just a few words for all those who haven’t heard it yet?

Regal, baroque, sinister, macrocosmic DOOM.

 

– Getting a bit into this new effort; would you mind to elaborate a bit on its artwork?

The theme of this album helped dictate what art should adorn it. We hoped that the booklet and art used would aid in creating the correct mood, and somehow give the listener a chance to peer into the impressions that we ourselves had in our minds’ eye when we crafted this music. The general use of symbology, regalia and heraldry were a strong inspiration, which we managed to twist into our own form with the help of our artist on this album Sean Schock and our graphic arts guru Pat Di Palo. There are alot of levels to the art, alot of hidden symbology and significance, which is in harmony with the whole concept we chose to explore.

 

– How was the songwriting process this time around?

Some of the material took many years to complete, and some is quite fresh. We have always taken a long time to craft songs to our satisfaction, so in this light, the writing process was fairly similair to our usual practice. Generally I compose all the songs myself, and the other members elaborate on those compositions where it is necessary. As I write, I usually record it and store it, so that I can continue work on the songs/ ideas whenever the inspiration strikes. Alot of the time I will add 3 or 4 guitar harmonies (or more), so it is necessary to record it as I write, otherwise it can become too much to remember each individual guitar part. When I am satisfied with the total song, I will score it out using the Guitar Pro program, and then give it to each member. Only then are we ready to begin rehearsing it and completing it.

 

– What’s the main concept behind “The Book of Kings”?

It’s an exploration into the secret and occult history of mankind and earth. The ruling over man by both Gods and men. When exploring this topic, one soon sees a seemingly sinister agenda appearing. This is what we aimed to capture, and portray via the impressions and atmosphere put forth in both the music and lyrics on this album.

 

– This is your first album with bass player Ben Newsome. What has he brought to the band?

He has brought a dedication and solidity to the low end that we did not always have. Plus he shares a similair history and musical upbringing that we have.

 

– In this album you have recorded your longest tune, “The Book of Kings”, taking 33 minutes. How was like writing such an epic song with so many different parts on it?

This is obviously a track that took many years to complete. I think it was begun in 2005 or something. I did have the vision from the start to make this a very long song. Not just for the sake of it, but because the lyrical theme seemed to require this length, and the music unfolded that way quite naturally. For a long period of time I found it hard to finish and to know where to take it without making it boring. That’s why it took so long to complete. But in the end, it all feels correct to me somehow.

 

– Also, like just you did in “The Monad of Creation” with “When the Weeping Dawn Beheld its Mortal Thirst”, you have added an accoustic tune entitled “The Bitter Veils of Solemnity”. What could you comment on it?

We have always had acoustic or clean-tone guitar tracks since our first demo. I love writing and playing acoustic guitar ALMOST as much as heavy guitar, so it’s always very natural to write acoustic songs.

 

– You have always had a recognizable style, playing a really extreme Funeral Doom that sets you apart from most band into the genre. Is your sound and lyrics a mirror of your personalities? Where do you draw inspiration from to create your music?

Speaking for myself, in very many ways it is a reflection of my personality for sure. It is not something we do as a hobby or fun in any way. It is a necessity, and it is a part of my being that I ponder upon every single day. Sometimes I feel that ideas and inspirations are simply given to me – when one picks up a guitar and the first notes that ring out grab your creative senses, without putting any thought into it, that definitely feels like it has been given to you, and you are just a receiver for something greater than yourself. Other than these times, my inspiration comes purely from the desire to create dark, emotive and grand music. It is esoteric, occult and abstract. It is hard to analyse. And perhaps it should not be analysed, it should just be.

 

– All your 4 albums are superb and have received overwhelming reviews; does this puts more pressure on you when it comes to work on new material or is it just bonus motivation?

Admittedly, you do always consider what people are saying about your previous releases. But how much this actually affects your future outputs is hard to tell. I think we have our own standards which we wish to achieve, and we ourselves try to fill in what we felt may be missing from previous releases each time. So I always view it as a constant building upon an initial foundation. Our ideals haven’t changed much over the years. But our musical and intellectual knowledge has, so hopefully we can harness these inspirations to further perfection each time.

 

– It seems for you good stuff needs its time, proof of that are your lengthy songs and the time you take (or you used to take until this new effort) between each release, isn’t it?

Yes, we have never rushed anything too much. This hasn’t always been by choice but by circumstance. I think it is better to let things flow at a natural pace, rather than being pushed by label demands or anything else.

 

– In fact you’ve been around for almost 20 years but have just released 4 full-length albums. Is there any concrete reason behind this? For instance “Tears From a Grieving Heart” was released back in 1998 and yor second album came out in 2005. Why did it take you so long?

No label support for a few years there, so no money to record or release stuff. I think we actually started recording The Monad album in 2003 or 2004, but it took a long time to finish the recording and mixing due to the engineer we were working with at the time.

So once again, it wasn’t exactly by choice, it was just the way it happened.

 

– After all these years, what have been both the best and worst moments with MOURNFUL CONGREGATION?

I guess there have been moments that could be put into a category of “good” and “bad”, but I couldn’t put anything into the category of “best” and “worst”. I dunno. I can’t say.

 

– We all know Doom Metal is not an eay-listening style anyway, it seems to be a growing scene, with new bands coming out and some older ones that are still on track but, what’s your view on this scene?

I find the majority of bands boring. The lights of only a few shine brighter. I hope that more “Doom” bands will put more dedication and time into their music in the future, because it is still a style that has not been explored to its zenith yet, unlike alot of other metal styles seem to have been.

 

– And what about the scene in Ocenia? Is it difficult being that “isolated” (geographically) and wanting to get an important slot into the Metal world?

Yes! Isolation can be good, but it makes a musical career very hard.

 

– Finally, what are your short-term plans? What does future hold for you?

Firstly we are pursuing live performances this year and next, in Australia and abroad. Also I am writing new music when the inspiration strikes. Plus we are finalising the layout for the grand LP version of The Book of Kings to be released on Ostra Records.

 

– That’s all from my side, thanks again for taking the time. Now the famous last words are all yours.

Thankyou for the interview. May the depths of Doom rise to enlighten you!!!

Damon

Sergio Fernández

sergio@queensofsteel.com

 

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