Mournful Congregation: The Unspoken Hymns

Mournful Congregation (specifically their re-issue of early material, The Unspoken Hymns) summon some smoky, trippy, psychogenic-hallucinogenic visions of my early adolescence:


a Saint Vitus cassette (Saint Vitus, on the tiny SST label), that in 1987 was all the rage as, even then, a “classic, rare tape” (thus RIP and, I think, Metal Maniacs magazines said); I could never find it in town, no matter how many tape stores I went to (“tape stores”– ha!);

Then: a few months later– several towns and states away–

I happened upon it:

“Hark! does the spine of that tape in the “pop” (not metal) section say Saint Vitus? Holy Godfucker! I believe it mothereffing does in fact evince such a non-verbal proclamation!”*

I pulled out the tape, with its H.R.-Giger-meets-plastic-speculum anti-theft sculpture/container/packaging.

It was Saint Vitus! But then I saw the circular sticker in the lower right corner–

Why the hell was it $11.99??

That was a fortune for a tape! They were always 7, 8, or $9.99– never with a fourth digit–usurious bastards!

“You are not METAL…!

“You are not true warriors of an ancient and inherited nobility, on innately honest and true and mighty, one immune to shame and sin and…!”

So, anyway, I get it.

Holding it, I can only imagine, like neanderthal hunters held prey recently clawed into submission, at home I played it over and over and over and over (i.e., flip/play, flip/playflip/play); I think at that age it didn’t matter at all if you didn’t like it at first– you WANTED to like it, and so you listened and listened and let it wash over you, taking mental notes, until it became a part of your psyche. You didn’t so much like it then as much as know it.

The Unspoken Hymns is essentially an update, an evolution, a mutation, of Saint Vitus: better, denser production, even further detuned, even slower, even more despondant…

The entirety of The Unspoken Hymns is essentially Chopin’s “Sonata No. 2 In B-Flat Minor For Piano, Op. 35: III. Marche Funebre (Funeral March): Lento,”*** as played by radically-detuned electric guitars.

You know if this is for you.

Let it wash over you, let it seep into your skin, find your inner sad 14-year-old and revel in this.

Sometimes… it feels so good to feel so sad. Come on– ride high on this deep depression.

*That’s totally how I talked back then.**
**Also now.
***If you’re European art music-phobic, find the Candlemass cover here.


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