Red Mourning - Where Stone and Water Meet
Bad Reputation
Southern Stoner Metal/Hardcore
13 songs (43' 31")
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Andy
Surprise of the month

What is it about Europeans that, with such a different culture than my own American one, they can nonetheless do such a beautifully American-style sound? Last year I reviewed Italian Tombstone Highway's debut album, which certainly fell into that category, and this year I get French stoner/sludge/hardcore outfit Red Mourning's third full length, Where Stone and Water Meet, which is noiser and more abrasive, but even more down and dirty -- and more diverse -- than Tombstone Highway's Ruralizer was.

Picture to yourself the work chorus of a swamp chain gang, or perhaps a line of railroad-building roughnecks singing hopelessly as they build a railroad from Buttfuck, Arkansas to the line's final terminus, Hell. JC "Hoog" Doorn's vocals alternate between Anselmo-style blasts of fury and raggedly groaned harmonies, as The Sound of Flies opens with distorted slide guitar, accompanied by harmonica and a tinkling honky-tonk piano; Gun-Blue is similar. The sound here is tight but not overly slick in production -- just right, in my opinion --, allowing Doorn's voice and guitarist Romaric Méoule's choppy riffs to dominate without becoming overwhelming. Rabid Dogs and Twisted Bitches, one of my favorites, opens with a swinging, blues-filled riff that deepens and slows until faster riffs overtake it and speed the song up to a frantic, stuttering pace. The songs are all pretty short, which seems to be due to the speed the band brings from the hardcore part of their DNA; despite the fact that I lump them into a "Stoner Doom" category, the band's simply too energetic to allow any riff to stay slow for long. Most of the time that works, but one wishes occasionally that interludes like the slow, despairing, but quite memorable Work Song, or Touched by Grace, could be mirrored in the regular songs, just in a heavier way.

Though that doesn't happen much, that's a minor nitpick, as the high-speed riffing has a charm of its own, and occasionally it does slow down, after all. Red Mourning is quite effective at blending genres, and Over the Rail is a prime example of that -- it goes slow, it goes fast, it brims with equal parts sorrow, resignation, and rage. That's the best way I can describe it. While the least enjoyable songs partake more of hardcore than one would want, such as There Goes the Chair, the ones with more of a blues and metal vibe are simply wonderful, including the title track, with a twisted but powerfully melodic riff that rolls unstoppably through to the end like a steamroller.

I strongly recommend giving Where Stone and Water Meet a listen; with its range of influences and styles, it is likely to appeal to a reasonably wide set of listeners. Red Mourning's made, if not a masterpiece, an inventive combination of styles that injects authenticity into a lovingly crafted version of a genre that started far from their native land.

Killing Songs :
Rabid Dogs and Twisted Bitches, Over the Rail, Where Stone and Water Meet
Andy quoted 84 / 100
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