Mourning Dawn – The Foam of Despair (Aesthetic Death)

Friday, 26th January 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

The progression of a band can be a funny thing. In the case of Mourning Dawn, they’ve been churning out black-tinged doom metal for two decades at this point, having been a consistent act that has always fit in nicely with their own niche in the world of slow and heavy. They’ve yet to release a bad album, but have always had this aura of something more spectacular within their grasp. Previous entry Dead End Euphoria was solid as can be, but perhaps lacked that defining element to put it over the top. We’re back with the band’s sixth full-length in The Foam of Despair, and this go around, the French contingent just may have found their next level.

Mourning Dawn holds nothing back on the onset with a mature and varied offering in “Tomber du temps.” A mixture of impactful doom stylings and black metal inspired guitar work is at the core, complemented by an assortment of spoken word and pain-filled screamed vocalizations. Then there’s the saxophone piece, performed by Adrien Harmois; an unexpected addition, blending with the guitar passages to form a haunting finish. Definitely a precursor of what The Foam of Despair had brewing, possessing more twists in store.

Single “Blue Pain” feels like a very personal entry from songwriter and founder Laurent Chaulet – an at times punchy piece that conveys a bevy of emotions. A soul-sapping chorus hits like a punch to the gut, with Chaulet painfully screaming “It’s in my head, It’s in my head they say, The ghosts of the brave, Concealed in blue pain.” Further emphasis is provided by stirring leads and haunting clean guitars, rounding out to a hell of a standout. Meanwhile, “Borrowed Skin” is the longest track clocking in at over eleven minutes of mid-paced melodic doom, conjoined by a middle portion boasting a slow synth beat that merges the front and back portions skillfully. The guitar lead that concludes is a massive ear worm, too – one of this writer’s favorite moments of this release.

The atmosphere moves towards the maniacal with the chilling “Apex,” followed by a further foray into electronic beats in “Suzerain,” carefully layered with crunchy guitars and spoken word pieces (these are in French, so we’re unsure of the lyrical context). Definitely a stark departure from the band’s long-running doom stylings, and to some, elements such as these may be jarring, as they’re not expected. To our ears, these keep us on our proverbial toes, and as a lover of electronic music, these elements aren’t heavy handed and don’t feel out of place. “The Color of Waves” brings The Foam of Despair back into more familiar territory, with a structure that echoes earlier track “Borrowed Skin,” but also being a tad darker. Some versions also include a bonus track, “Midnight Sun,” which is more on the electronic/experimental side, dabbling in noise and even some industrial influences, all while not breaking the mood.

We can see The Foam of Despair having a little bit of potential to be divisive, especially amongst those who desire a more traditional form of doom metal. Mourning Dawn have thankfully proven to be anything but, and The Foam of Despair stands tall as their most creative and immersive work to date. Chaulet took a number of risks, and to his credit, the large majority richly reward the curious and open minded listener. Ultimately, this may be Mourning Dawn’s most intimate and intricate record, most assuredly warranting your undivided attention.

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