RAPID FIRE REVIEWS: Monolithe, ION, and Murder Inc.
Three records reviewed in a quick succession. We got thrash, we got goth, we got prog. Get in here and choose your fighter from Murder Inc., ION, and Monolithe!
Murder Inc. – Umlčen Navěky
Czech this shit out. Ripping, no-fucks-given, pedal-to-the-metal thrash. Thrash that makes you want to take a sledgehammer to one of the yuppiemobiles cruising by outside. Bit of a corny name, sure, but who cares.
The album doesn’t waste any time and I won’t waste much with the review. Warp-speed riffs abound and the band rarely, if ever, slows down for even a second; solos are not in short supply, yet there’s nary a hint of wankery; I don’t understand a word of the lyrics, but they’re spat out with sufficient rawness and vitriol for one to get the gist. There isn’t much ebb and flow to the album, though you’re treated to a few chugs and slower tempos toward the end to wind you up for the final track. Bottom line: if you’re familiar with the basic re-thrash template, you’ll know exactly what you’re in for. This is an excellent addition to any playlist that involves Toxic Holocaust or any of their brethren; it’s nothing new, but it’s very well executed and a grand old time.
Umlčen Navěky is out now. Order here. Goes well with: cheap beer, well whiskey, car rides, battle vests. 4/5 Toilets ov Hell.
Monolithe – Nebula Septem
And now for something completely different. Dark metal, gothic doom, whatever. If Murder Inc. is straight up gleeful aggression- and it is- this one is where you sit in a dark room and stew while moody thoughts percolate through the brain. Tempos stay on the slow side of midrange, melancholy guitar leads trade off with keys for dominance, and the vocals inject enough variety so as not to be written off as an afterthought. A nod should be given as well to one of the concepts underlying the composition, namely:
“On the album, the tonality of each song is one of the 7th notes of the western scale.
The first letter of the songs’ titles is one of the 7th first letters of the alphabet; it is also the tonality of each song – from A to G.”
Cool approach, though frankly I wouldn’t have noticed it without prior indication; it’s there, but you need to be told that it’s there because it’s not sufficiently apparent when listening “blind.” And that consideration, taken further into the abstract, is the issue with this album: it feels torn between competing ideas, not fully committed to a unified approach. Take the sci-fi concept but run with it, up the keys and the weirdness, and you’d have a more conventional- but still effective- companion to Darkspace. Or take the other route, inject some more rhythmic variety and lean harder on the guitar hooks. Choose whatever, but choose; as it stands, while this is a very entertaining album indeed, it comes across as one whose excellent ideas could have, and should have, been better fleshed out.
Fun listen. It probably won’t be a contender for the year’s top 10 or 15, but give it a try and see what you think. Your time will at least not be wasted.
Nebula Septem is out now on Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions. Order here. Goes well with: red wine, cognac, black lager or dry-hopped pilsner, charcuterie with a baguette and a good triple-crème. Not all at once. 3.5/5 Toilets ov Hell.
ION – A Path Unknown
What do you get when you cross black metal, noise, post-metal, and dark ambient, then pass it through a filter of early Pink Floyd and some Oranssi Pazuzu on the side? This. There’s a surprising amount of structure here, underneath the washes of effects and lengthy jams that are as contemplative as they are hallucinatory. Ample stretches of time will be spent stretching out a riff and permuting it in half a dozen different directions, but the group will then spend as much time in a (by comparison) relaxing 4/4 stomp. ION know exactly what they’re doing and it’s up to the listener to try and keep up, but good luck with that. This is a challenging listen indeed and quite rewarding, if you can stick with it, but it would hardly be ideal for an “open this fucking pit up” vibe.
To be honest, I feel as if I’m running in circles trying to describe this adequately. It really is a remarkable piece of work, intricate and intriguing, and I think I’ll be coming back to this many, many times to peel back the layers. If you care to join, I think you might dig it.
A Path Unknown is out now. Order here. Goes well with: imperial stout, Scotch, curry, dim sum. Not all at once, dammit. 4.5/5 Toilets ov Hell.