Mournful Cries (SST, 1988)
I’ve always thought this record paled in comparison to its predecessor. While Born Too Late tackled a variety of topics in its six tracks, what we have here is a fistful of anti-drug PSAs (“Shooting Gallery,” “Bitter Truth”) and a couple songs about mythical creatures (“Dragon Time,” “The Troll”). Some of these tunes are pretty decent, mind you, but the album just never hit home with me.
“The Creeps” is something we didn’t hear on Born Too Late: a shorter, faster number, this one an ode to mental illness checking in at less than three minutes—and that’s with an extended outro, which flows right into “Dragon Time.” The lyrics to this song are so silly that I have a hard time taking it seriously, but aside from that, it’s a pretty solid slow-motion stomper, not as impactful as “Born Too Late” or “Dying Inside,” but I’m sure it’s quite frightening to small children.
My personal highlight on this record is “Shooting Gallery,” a low-down, dirty, grimy tune befitting of its subject matter. While completely lacking in subtlety, this tune does for heroin what “Dying Inside” did for booze. (Mind you, I’ve never been hooked on smack, so…) The tone on the guitar solo is downright frightening—sounding like some sort of sickly saxophone, and the ominous drumming that begins immediately afterwards makes this trip take a turn for the worse. “Bitter Truth” continues along the substance-abuse theme, this one beginning with some classical-style guitar before pounding drums and a police-siren guitar riff bring this back into mid-paced doom territory.
“The Troll” is another highlight, similar in (slow) pace and (gloomy) feel to “Shooting Gallery.” Lyrically, this tune also takes the outsider’s perspective—albeit through the voice of a fairytale creature that lives underground. While not a rallying cry for longhairs like “Born Too Late,” it’ll get yer head nodding, anyways. Likewise, “Looking Glass” ends things with one of the most addictively headbangable riffs on this record. Incidentally, this is one of two songs written by Wino this time around. After all the doom-and-gloom, it kinda closes things off on a positive note, though you wouldn’t really know that unless you paid attention to the words.
This would be the band’s last record for SST, and in some ways, they sorta jumped the shark with this one. The next three albums would feature three different singers, and things didn’t really seem right until Wino rejoined the band and they finally recorded a new record in 2012, some 24 years later. That said, I’d still take Born Too Late over Mournful Cries, any day…