Like many black metal projects, Mourning Soul have actually been around for a while (2003) yet have just now released their debut album. Sometimes it really takes a while to get your footing and that's what these guys show off pretty well here. The record was originally a one man project helmed by Sacrifice (Rovina, SID) but has since become a stronger three-man project with the addition of Decrepit (Legione, Tul, Velchans) on guitars and Nocturnal Fog (Exaltatio Diaboli) on drums. That leaves Sacrifice to handle the bass and vocals, which he does a fantastic job of. The vocal style here isn't the raspy sort of scowl you might expect and features a bit more depth and meat. It feels more mature and almost reminds me a bit of Nergal's vocal approach in Behemoth. Though the music is definitely a bit different from that of Behemoth, even though we're obviously hearing a black metal act that doesn't mind mixing in grooves and thrash instead of just tremolos and blast beats all the time. I like these kinds of records, because they give me something more to chew on then the same damn thing I'm offered time and again. One time a listening session comprised of three “classic style black metal acts” which all sounded the same and literally went in one ear and out the other. Yet when I hear an act like this, it's even tough to call it black metal and it might even piss off the purists, which is good. They need a little change every now and again, and another shade of grim. Again, I feel that what Mourning Soul is doing here is definitely more mature and surely more textured than the vast majority, even adding in all those French Deathspell Omega emulations. Just in listening to “The Cold Embrace Calls Me” I'm hearing several different layers, every one of them sounding no less forlorn or morose than the others. You can definitely bang your head and get a lot of frustration out with this sort of sound, even though you might hear a glimpse or two of keyboards. Granted, these aren't the starlight galaxy kinds of keyboards that create an atmosphere either. They're just there to add a little more depth to the performance and you might not even notice them. There's also a sort of demonic moan utilized on the record at times that make Sacrifice sound like a vengeful spirit.
Mourning Soul are also the kind of act that like to play around with electronic soundscapes in order to make things sound even more frightening, and I love that about them. There are some definite atmospheric pieces here like “Ultima Solitudo” and the unsettling closer to the album that follows after “The Judgement Of Gehenna” that will make the hairs stick up on the back of your neck. But even if you don't like these sorts of things on other albums, I think you'll appreciate them here. As I said, this is what I would consider a very mature and truly grim black metal release that sounds exactly like what we should be doing in 2016. It's also very thick, almost sludgy and definitely carries a bit of fog with it. The leaflet here recommends these guys for fans of Marduk, Temple Of Baal and Watain, but I don't think you even have to be a fan of those bands to like Mourning Soul. They stand on their fucking own and make the kind of music they want to make. If we weren't talking about the Tongue-In-Cheek notions behind our site's moniker and literally focused on records with a grim atmosphere, than Ego Death Ritual I would most certainly be one of the most grim and adventurous records I've ever heard. I repeat myself, if you're wondering what black metal should sound like fifteen years after it's birth in the mid-nineties, then look no further than what has been achieved here. Mourning Soul are by far one of the most interesting acts I've heard in a genre plagued with copycats. They're one band that I can say don't care about traditions or trends – they just want to play music, and they do a rather fine fucking job of that. Definitely one of the year's best black metal releases.
(9 Tracks, 45:00)