Tech Deathcult Thursday

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Salutations, techdeathcultheads. As you may have surmised, your good shepherd Jack Bauer is out planning the ultimate April Fool’s Day prank to play on all those silly terrorists, so the burden for this illustrious column now falls squarely on my narrow, girlish shoulders. I hope they don’t buckle under the weight. Today, I’m choppin’ at ya about The Monolith Deathcult, but before we get to the meat and potatoes of this succulent buffet, the magnanimous Archbauer has requested that I, your humble servant, pass along the good word regarding the wide world of weedlies. Here’s the tech deathcult news you can use:

  • George Kolias, drummist extraordinaire, has unleashed a new solo track that can be found by stabbing this Lambgoat link.
  • Archspire, your sovereign and benevolent overlords of tech have offered you another glimpse of divinity in the form of a guitar playthrough video for “The Oblivion Chain.”
  • Your high priest Jackspire would like me to bring to your attention one last offering from a new band called Liquid Space 9. As the prophet spake, “This brings the weedlies hard.”

Now that you have received your daily deedlies like manna from heaven, we can now get to the task at hand. For my paltry offering to this revered series, I’d like to highlight the brand new release from Dutch death metal surrealists The Monolith Deathcult. Born in 2002 from a fiery crucible of “steel that was ravaged by death,” TMDC are a technical death metal band that have often taken the path less traveled. While other bands have seen fit to worship the corrupt and exult the perverse, TMDC are a group with unlikely backgrounds and acerbic senses of humor, opting instead to focus on their favorite subjects: history, politics, literature, and self-abasement. The band first made their presence known to the wider community in 2003 with full-length The Apotheosis, a decidedly vicious slab of searing carnage not unlike early Nile or Immolation, but with a focus on tangible human conflicts and fears. The album was serviceable as a technical record but lacked much of the whimsy that would come to characterize later efforts. I’d link something hear for your aural satisfaction, but A). I’ve been unable to track this album down on Spotify or Bandcamp and B). you’ll see soon that there is no reason to do so.

Not content to rest on their laurels, the band returned just two years later with another full-length, The White Crematorium. The album was met with mixed reviews, and although many fans consider it a classic, at least one reviewer on Metal Archives hates it. I’m not sure if our esteemed brother in blog just doesn’t quite get what their shtick or if he genuinely is unamused, but either way, The White Crematorium remains a brutal exercise that shines a light on some of the darkest corners of human society, like a really unflattering selfie. The little twists and derivations that would eventually come to make TMDC who they are would just begin to rear their ugly little heads on this release, but ultimately this albums serves simply as a predecessor of the absurdity to come. The White Crematorium would actually see a re-release, and you can find both versions on Spotify.

It was finally on TMDC’s next album, Triumvirate, that the band’s signature take on death metal would take root. Songs got longer and thicker. The lyrics became more tongue-in-cheek. Gang vocals, electronic chirps, and other unconventional elements were incorporated into the package. Ultimately, this blend would produce an album both heavy as a sperm whale and effervescent as a mantis shrimp, a shining, unassailable tower of garish chrome burning the retinas of all unbelievers. Many fans consider this TMDC’s magnum opus because it never forsakes heaviness for wackiness but always uses the latter to accentuate the former, often coming off as a slightly less serious but never less brutal Septicflesh. Check out “Wrath of the Ba’ath” for a perfect example of that tasty blend of sweet’n’sour.

If Triumvirate was a burning spire of unconventional metals welded together into an impenetrable fortress of deadly riffs and barbarous growls, the next new full-length, Tetragrammaton, was a writhing, wriggling spire of dying unicorns, rusting battleships, and smashed TIE Fighters. It seems that after finishing 2008’s Triumvirate and and the re-release of The White Crematorium 2.0, TMDC looked at their kingdom and thought, “Oy, needs moar dakka!” And so it was. In writing Tetragrammaton, TMDC decided to take every possible element they could, including the kitchen sink, and threw it at the wall, not caring if anything stuck. Yet somehow, miraculously, all those surreal, almost Dada-esque elements worked together to create a baffling mix that was equally silly and brutal, somehow out-bombasting anything released by Nile, Septicflesh, and other cinematic technical death metal bands. Seriously, combining Optimus Prime voice-overs with audio clips from Caligula and Independence Day and readings from The Bible and Milton’s Paradise Lost while discussing the Rwandan Genocide and the Dutch Slave Trade shouldn’t work, but somehow, inexplicably, it does. The final product is a death metal album that sounds like a bad milkshake made from chunks of RammsteinSepulturaThe BerzerkerKeep of Kalessin, and Krisiun, but that big meaty concoction still goes down smooth. Most importantly, though, this album is fun. Really fun. In a way most extreme metal bands aren’t fun. In my humble opinion, it’s The Monolith Deathcult’s best album thus far, and my only complaint is that there are a few sequences where the guitars take a backseat to the orchestration. It still rules, though.

So how did TMDC decide to proceed after losing two members (the band now only consists of Michiel Dekker, Robin Kok, and Carsten Altena) and dropping such a wild ride of an album? With a decidedly more straightforward and stripped-down (compared to Tetragrammaton) EP called Bloodcvlts. If this lengthy and bizarre interview is to be believed, most of the tracks on Bloodcvlts are re-imaginings from the band’s debut The Apotheosis. However, these aren’t just mere re-recordings. Songs have been rearranged with new electronic and cinematic elements added to enhance the sense of grandeur and to capture TMDC as the weird amalgam of heaviness and levity, not unlike a robot unicorn, that they are in 2015. The end result is an album that is a bit more brutal than Tetragrammton but a little less fun overall. This is still a quality release, especially for an EP, and the only thing I’d recommend you skip is the techno remix called “Die Waffe Mensche.” My favorite song on the new album might be the reinterpretation of “Den Ensomme Nordens Dronning,” a quasi-acoustic track that sounds similar to the way the band played the song live for that radio show we covered. But don’t take my word for it. Check out “Hangmen Also Die” below and stream the full album on Spotify.

If you’re down with death metal that doesn’t take itself too seriously, give TMDC a like on Facebook and purchase Bloodcvlts via Season of Mist.

I think this is the part where your divine guide usually says something. Oh yeah! STAY TECH!

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(Photo VIA)

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