There was definitely something in the Swedish water during the early Nineties, when (and where) melodic progressive death metal sprung forth in quite a prolific manner, setting the scene for further bastardisations of metal as we know it. Whilst luminaries such as At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames would go on to great success (albeit in very different musical directions to one another), the lesser known Mourning Sign disappeared altogether in 1997 after just two albums.
Having plied their trades in various other proggy outfits over the years, Mourning Sign reformed in 2016 and have finally seen fit to grace us with a third album. Immediately striking to the listener is the quality of the musicianship, notably some great guitar work throughout. The vocals are delivered in a consistent manner than reminds me of Johan Liivas performances on the fledgling Arch Enemy (no photos please) output, with the exception of the clean vocals on “Sleep”. Vocals aside, the album is awash with confident switches between aggressive brutality and crafted melodies.
This would have been pretty fresh sounding back in the 90’s. however, nearly a quarter of a century later, chops and confidence count for little when fans of this kind of music are either seeking the next new sound or screaming for “the good ol’ days”. This album is neither pleasantly nostalgic nor progressively complex enough to be particularly interesting, and as a result does not do the musicianship sufficient justice.
Mourning Sign are clearly a band with bag-loads of enthusiasm and competence, blessed with a modern sharp and tight production. Sadly, they are burdened with dated ideas, and would benefit from taking a looking at the progressive development of their former peers in the “big three” (okay, not In Flames, just ATG and Dark Tranquillity) amongst others. That said, this is a must-have curio for fans of the early Swedish melo-death sound.