Assemblage 23 – Mourn

A soul-searching electronic journey

Assemblage 23 - Mourn

Album facts

Release Date: September 11th, 2020
Label: Metropolis Records
Genre: , , , ,
Discogs: Link
Partially sounds like: VNV Nation, De/Vision, Solitary Experiments

After 'Endure' in 2016, Assemblage 23 rings in the autumn with an excep­tion­al new album. On 'Mourn',  Tom Shear  vir­tu­ously exper­i­ments with a vari­ety of synth ele­ments, mak­ing every single song an indi­vidu­al piece of finest elec­tron­ic music.

These play­ful vari­ations blend in with very intim­ate lyr­ics and per­son­al con­tem­pla­tions on feel­ings like loneli­ness, anxi­ety and empti­ness, which are, unfor­tu­nately, ever so present in the times we live in.


With 6:44 min, 'Epiphany' is the longest song on the album and forms a beau­ti­ful intro­duc­tion to this elec­tron­ic jour­ney of intim­ate feel­ings that awaits us.

The heavy and slow EBM beats under­line the deep and mel­an­chol­ic lyr­ics about "exist­en­tial dread" and sheer misery, while a vari­ation of synth wave and future pop ele­ments con­trib­utes to this gloomy atmo­sphere.

After this first quite intense track, 'Factory' is not less gloomy in terms of lyr­ics and yet comes with a lively beat and melody. The song starts off with a sound that reminds us of cling­ing met­al or steel and quickly takes up a faster beat, build­ing up to a won­der­ful future pop chor­us. The sound from the begin­ning is developed fur­ther in the bridge where the clank­ing noises of machinery form a melody of their own.

'Factory' is def­in­itely one of my favor­ite songs on the album and proves once more how Tom Shear excels in cre­at­ing melod­ies that just won't leave our heads. I'm pretty sure that this song is going to be as recog­niz­able as 'Bravery'.

Just like in 'Factory', Assemblage 23 once more exper­i­ments with nat­ur­al sounds in the third song of the album: 'Bloom' starts off with the sound of water droplets and run­ning water, per­fectly fit­ting the image of "the rain singing liquid whis­pers". The dark fore­bod­ing synth melody and EBM beats trans­form into yet anoth­er future pop chor­us, remind­ing us that no mat­ter how dark it might be, there is always a light guid­ing us.

Exhaustion in my bones, drag­ging a heavy anchor.
It feels like you're alone when you're going nowhere.
Lyrics from 'Bloom' by Assemblage 23

The melody in the begin­ning of the song 'Anxiety' quickly makes way for harder stomp beats, “like the fist that ham­mers in the chest”. The melody com­ing back after every chor­us reminded me a bit of a hor­ror movie, as if anxi­ety is a demon lurk­ing in the dark, haunt­ing us and creep­ing into every single cell of our body. This feel­ing finds its cli­max in the chor­us where Tom Shear just screams out the word "anxi­ety" sev­er­al times, which gives this song an inter­est­ing and sur­pris­ing twist.


After this very power­ful song, 'Confession' starts off on a more peace­ful note with slow per­cus­sions. The song's slow and min­im­al­ist­ic rhythm builds up to a melod­ic­ally more com­plex song, with new ele­ments join­ing in at every verse. 'Confession' is also a rather per­son­al song describ­ing the mixed feel­ings one might have when con­tem­plat­ing on their life and past decisions.

In com­par­is­on to the last songs, 'Dissonance' is less com­plex in the vari­ation of synth ele­ments and sounds, which doesn't make it any less good. As a mat­ter of fact, its future pop melody is rather encour­aging and forms a beau­ti­ful con­trast to the dis­son­ance and dis­con­tent con­veyed by the lyrics.

Sometimes we have to lose it all to find our place. Sometimes anoth­er chance means fall­ing on your face.
Lyrics from 'Dissonance' by Assemblage 23

This rather pos­it­ive mood is sud­denly inter­rup­ted again by the ser­i­ous lyr­ics of 'Welcome, Apocalypse'. Even though the beat and melody are a bit more min­im­al­ist­ic, they stay in your head and undeni­ably form yet anoth­er typ­ic­al Assemblage 23 song. Apart from the fact that this songs seems to be a clear hint at the cur­rent situ­ation we all live in at this very moment, it also reminded me a lot of VNV Nation's 'When the lights go out' from the album 'Noire'.

New beginning

'Could’ve' slows us down again with a chor­al-like intro, keep­ing up a mid tempo beat through­out the whole song. Just like "empathy is out of stock" in 'Welcome, Apocalypse', the title and the lyr­ics of this song are openly accus­ing oth­er people's selfish­ness and nar­row-minded­ness.

I thought you knew me but you look right through me.
Lyrics from 'Could've' by Assemblage 23

'Tragedy' takes up a faster future pop beat again and the lyr­ics hold yet anoth­er mes­sage for us: "the greatest tragedy is the one that you your­self cre­ate", remind­ing us that we are all respons­ible for our actions and need to reflect upon ourselves constantly.

The last song of the album starts off rather quietly and marks both an end­ing and a new begin­ning. Even though for me 'This House Is Empty' is the least inter­est­ing song on the album, it per­fectly fits the over­all atmo­sphere and con­tem­pla­tions from the oth­er songs. "Burning the house down" seems equal to mak­ing a fresh start and choos­ing a new dir­ec­tion in life.

“A melodrama in 10 acts”

Assemblage 23 has been there as long as I can think of and there’s a reas­on for that: Tom Shear's dis­tinct­ive voice and his capa­city to cre­ate sound­scapes and melod­ies that we would recog­nize every time.

With 'Mourn', he proves once again that he is able to sur­prise us and at the same time stay close to his roots. The some­times bit­ter and very per­son­al lyr­ics on this album strike you dir­ectly in the heart and invite you to dwell upon them.

As most of us are not able to go out, just get up from your sofa and have your­self a future pop home party or simply enjoy this won­der­ful, mel­an­chol­ic piece of music with your head­phones and a glass of your favor­ite drink.

By the way, this album also made it into our art­icle 'The best Synth Pop and genre-related albums 2020'. Read now.

Track By Track Rating

Assemblage 23 - Mourn
Assemblage 23 – Mourn
Welcome, Apocalypse
This House Is Empty
Welcome, Apocalypse
(Nothing to report here)