A soul-searching electronic journey
Release Date: September 11th, 2020
Label: Metropolis Records
Genre: Assemblage 23, EBM, Future Pop, Industrial, Synthwave
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'.
'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.