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Shroud of Bereavement : While We Mourn

After five years of silence, Shroud of Bereavement return with a beautiful EP that makes the wait for another album even harder to bear.

No less than five years after their acclaimed full-length Alone Beside Her, Shroud of Bereavement finally show a sign of life. The US-band has been around for quite some time, but has only released one album and a handful of shorter releases so far – a fact that isn’t all that surprising when taking a look at the fairly unstable line-up over the years. However, the stylistic basis has remained remarkably consistent thanks to main man Dan Robinson. With this beautiful new EP, he proves that his songwriting abilities are as strong as ever. Fans of the band’s earlier works will feel at home right from the beginning: Shroud of Bereavement still play their trademark mixture of somewhat raw Death Doom and Gothic Doom with neoclassical elements. If you are unfamiliar with the band, try to imagine Elegeion’s debut album with a stronger Death focus.

The title track is clearly the centrepiece of this release, covering various musical grounds in the course of its twelve minutes. Its structure is very dynamic for Doom standards, full of tempo changes and dramatic climaxes. Fragile moments with strings, piano and clean vocals (both female and male) and gorgeous melodic Death Doom riffs, rich with tasteful neoclassical ornaments, contrast with heavy doublebass outbursts and aggressive growls. This complex, eclectic composition style makes the song somewhat difficult to stomach at first, but it is all the more interesting upon repeated listen. Despite the contrasts, the ideas evolve naturally and seem to follow the ebb and flow of emotions portrayed in the melancholic lyrics. There is a certain Gothic Metal affinity to the sheer opulence of the arrangements, but the depressive atmosphere and sheer heaviness of some parts make sure the music remains firmly rooted in Death Doom nonetheless. The production is a bit of a two-edged sword: on the one hand, its raw edge is very pleasant, keeping the music well away from being too mellow and Goth-oriented, but on the other hand everything sounds a bit muddy, which makes it hard to catch all the details. Still, this is just a minor shortcoming, considering that While We Mourn is entirely self-released without the support of a label.

“An Unfamiliar Embrace”, the second original piece, is listed as a demo version on the Bandcamp page, and the drums appear to be programmed. However, the difference in sound quality is hardly audible and does not impair the listening experience in any way. This track is much more homogeneous with fewer tempo changes and less of a Death Doom feel. It is emotional and atmospheric in its own right, but clearly inferior to “While We Mourn”. In addition to the two new compositions, the EP contains an interpretation of “Forge” which already appeared on the Entering the Levitation – A Tribute to Skepticism double CD on Foreshadow Productions back in 2007. The band’s take on the Skepticism song is interesting and convincing, giving it a much more opulent and Goth-tinged appearance complete with beautiful acoustic guitars, piano and female backing vocals.

Anyone who enjoys Shroud of Bereavement will be delighted by this EP. Unfortunately, the new material merely amounts to twenty minutes and certainly cannot satisfy those who have waited for all this time, but it is a strong comeback with great promise of things to come. One cannot help but hope that we will not have to wait another five years for more fresh material to emerge!

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. While We Mourn
2. An Unfamiliar Embrace
3. Forge (Skepticism cover)

Duration : Approx. 27 minutes

Visit the Shroud of Bereavement bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-01-22 by Dominik Sonders
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