The artwork to Mourning Beloveth's third full-length 'A Murderous Circus' is strikingly similar to that of Katatonia's 'Viva Emptiness' album, with both showing images of a young girl with wings bathed in a gloomy grey light, and the dystopia nimagery of monolithic concrete structures, urban grime and abandoned and ransaked house interiors on album's inner sleeve continues the likeness.
The album continues in the vein of predecessor 'The Sullen Sulcus', with brooding romantic doom riffs worked into epic songs along with a mix of guttoral growls, soaring clean vocals, spoken word sections and quiet introspective moments, but there is plenty of musical progression to be found here, as the songs on 'A Murderous Circus' feel far more dynamic and urgent than those on its predecessor. The songs still feel as organic and sprawling as ever, indeed, moreso, with most of the songs reaching the 14 minute mark and one crawling on for almost a full 20 minutes, but whereas the songs on 'The Sullen Sulcus' were quite warm and gently reflective (for all their crushing riffs), the tracks here are somehow more momentous, with the band having gotten even better at arranging their riffs into proper *songs* that hold back and gradually build, the riffs eventually converging in immensely satisfying resolutions that come after many minutes of waiting (such as 13 minutes into 'The Crashing Wave' for example). It can be a little monotounous and repetitive in places , but this is to its advantage, as brooding, crawling passages slowly give way to epic, slowly-chugging grooves and to harmonised guitar sections in the vein of My Dying Bride that strive to squeeze every last drop of sorrowful emotion out of each moment.
The album does a great job of mixing sorrowful emotions with just a fleeting glimpse of hope and warmth, and moving riffs abound throughout the album's whopping 75-minute runtime. Singer Darren Moore's clean/spoken word vocals are excellent, although whilst his guttoral interjections are powerful and filled with emotion, his growls don't quite possess the same range of the likes of My Dying Bride's Aaron Stainthorpe, though this is a very minor point. The lethargic, thudding drums are good but quite unintrusive, playing patterns that would not sound out of place on My Dying Bride's slower earlier material, and the emphais is very much on the endless stream of epic riffs and mournful melodies that slowly unfold as the songs plough on unhurriedly.
There are also quiet passages with gentle, sombre clean chords with a Katatonia-like feel to them, whist closer '..Yet Everything' opens with celtic, folky guitarline and tribal drums that are reminiscient of Primordial, as indeed is the impassioned clean singing that appears throughout the album from time to time. The same track works itself up to a dynamic, relatively up-tempo conclusion, sounding fast by comparison despite being merely plodding, its urgent melodies and searching guitar harmonies bringing the album to a powerful and rousing close as the song fades away into nothing.
With 'A Murderous Circus' Mourning Beloveth have continued the arc of progression initiated with 'A Sullen Sulcus', creating an album that refuses to be rushed and instead slowly reveals itself with an urgent yet restrained momentum and endless waves of sorrowful emotion.
1. The Apocalypse Machine 14:40
2. Elemental Nausea 11:46
3. The Crashing Wave 14:11
4. Nothing (The March of Death) 19:43
5. ...Yet Everything 14:45
Total playing time 01:15:00