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The Monolith Deathcult – Tetragrammaton 2013


I first became aware of this band via this post on NO CLEAN SINGING and thought it was a great name. I’d been listening to a lot of Norwegian prog/black metal and fancied a change – so how about some Dutch industrial death metal?

This album just RIPS, it’s rapidly become my latest favourite – why?

– The double kick – buddabuddabuddabuddabuddabuddabuddabudda, sometimes buddadabuddadabuddadabuddada and even buddabuddabrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrudda (16th notes, triplets and the inhuman 32nd note licks he throws in)

– The vocal hooks – most of the songs are incredibly catchy, it’s all I can do to stop myself from chanting “FUELLED BY THE HATRED OF THE AYATOLLAHS” (from Human Wave Attack)

– Riffs – no messing about, just dirty, churning filth.

– The “announcer” – several of the songs feature a deep-voiced “announcer” as heard in adverts for American films. This is obviously ridiculous, but it is so much fun hearing him go on about “THE MONOLITH DEATHCULT”. The band clearly have a sense of humour, despite the grim subject matter of their music (war, death, religion, evil – not forgetting evil religious death wars).

This all combines with the samples (chants, strings) and odd electronic bits to create a great, fresh-sounding Middle Eastern tinged brutal death metal stomper that has really helped me get through this dark, dark week of working inhuman hours!

I wonder if the band name is taken from Robert E. Howard’s story “The Black Stone”?

Moonsorrow – Kivenkantaja 2003

Despite the band name, this is some epic pagan metal from Finland. This mainly avoids the cheese/folk danger inherent in the genre as it is more symphonic rather than having a synth fiddle on every song. There’s some great keyboard playing too, it reminds me of a 70s Italian band like PFM in places (the keyboards, I mean, not the music as a whole). Vocals are likewise excellent throughout, clean and harsh. The album starts out absolutely magnificently but maybe tails off slightly towards the end. Definitely recommended though and I will be listening to more Moonsorrow soon!

PS, I like the runestone on the cover, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has something similar, that’s where I go to pay homage to Väinämöinen.

The Tangent – Comm 2011

I’ve not heard an album start with the sound of a dialup modem since about 2003, but The Tangent saw fit to do this in 2011… Luckily the organ and synth soon kick in, followed by a nice wide guitar lead. There are two major epics, opener “The Wiki Man” and closer “Titanic Calls Carpathia”, two completely forgettable songs and my favourite, “Tech Support Guy” a song about a harrassed IT technician. “The Wiki Man” seems to be old man grumbling about the internet, people stealing your music, Facebook “friends” and people writing nasty things about you on your Wikipedia page “you could edit me out”… But the music is great, plenty of Canterbury-style organ and some nice synth solos as well as a bit of fancy bass playing.

This is recommended! The keyboard playing makes up for the somewhat clunky lyrics, I can’t compare it to their other albums though because I haven’t heard ’em… YET.

Sunn O))) 00 Void (2000)

Ultra-fast punk rock mayhem, every song blasts past with raging guitars and demented screaming, highlights are the 0:45 “Straight Edge” and… oh wait, who left the Minor Threat “Complete Discography” in my Sunn O))) CD case? This is the exact opposite of Minor Threat. In fact it is a MAJOR THREAT to your eardrums (in a good way).

This was my first Sunn O))) album, the first of many, many albums and I purchased it because it featured Greg Anderson, the guitarist from Goatsnake who blew my mind with their Dog Days EP. It’s not normal music, it is played on obscenely detuned guitars and possibly basses (it is impossible to tell due to the profundity and distortion) very, very slowly. If you thought [insert name of any other doom band] was slow, they’re not compared to Sunn O))).

There’s 4 tracks on here, each about 1/4 of an hour long. That’s 1/4 of an hour of slow, oppressive, relentless brraannggggg reverberating around your skull (x4). It is impossible to tell if these are actual riffs slowed down beyond the point of recognition or just random strikes of the subsonic axes of Anderson and his co-conspirator, Stephen O’Malley, I’d like to think they were riffs though, maybe if you could speed it up they might be playing “Iron Man” or something like that…

That’s not to say that it’s boring, it’s absolutely wonderful! The music is so overwhelming and all-consuming that if you listen to it when in a highly relaxed state,  it can transport you to another world. I remember listening to “Ra at Dusk” once, many years ago and envisioning a behemoth rising behind the temples and pyramids on the River Nile. You don’t get that when you listen to Minor Threat…

Edgar Allan Poe – Generazioni (1974)


What a great album cover! Look at that freaky ape, just look at it! Maybe it is the monkey thing in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”? Speaking of Poe, this has nothing to do with the author AFAICT (that was a pointless internet acronym I just invented right there. Unless, of course someone already has invented it, in which case they were wasting their time and should have been doing something better with it – like reviewing Italian prog albums.

Sadly, Edgar Allan Poe ain’t no PFM or Banco, they ain’t even no Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno. There’s too much aimless playing and dead time on this album. Some people would say that about any progressive music, but they’re wrong, obviously. The record takes a while to get going although when it does there are some nice moments e.g. the toy piano (?) riff in Considerazioni, and the churchy keyboards in Per Un’ Anima and Alla Ricerca Di Una Dimensione. The former is a pleasant acoustic song, a bit like Jethro Tull until the space church keys come in. The latter (Alla Ricerca…) is more of a “proper” prog song, lots of changes of mood and speed and some guitar riffing, something this band is lacking and of course the space church. No idea who played keys on this record but they shine!

Despite a very cool moog lead on the next song, the rest of the album meanders a bit, but those two songs mentioned above are very good indeed.

Actually, maybe I do like Edgar Allan Poe more than Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno, but they sure ain’t no Quella Vecchia Locanda!

Ihsahn – The Adversary (2006)

1. Invocation
2. Called by the Fire
3. Citizen
4. Homecoming
5. Astera Ton Proinon
6. Panem et Circenses
7. And He Shall Walk in Empty Places
8. Will You Love Me Now?
9. The Pain is Still Mine”

Ihsahn strikes out on his own after the demise of his old band, Emperor. This is less extreme than that band but it’s still got plenty of welly. Not much could be described as black metal but a couple of songs sound like less carnivorous, chaotically spiralling material from Emperor’s last album “Prometheus”.

Like “Prometheus”, many of the best songs have weird convoluted riffs and harsh vocals before erupting into magestic cleanly-sung choruses or mid-sections, e.g. “Called by the Fire”, “Panem et Circensis” and, most spectacularly “Will You Love Me Now?”. Despite its title, this song is a towering epic of hatred and disgust. The highlight is the call and response section between the clean and harsh vocals, the clean asking “Will you love me now?” And the harsh spitting venom at the society who will never accept the free-thinker…
That’s the dominant lyrical theme of this album, disdain for society, using Satan (The Adversary) as a metaphor for those who do their own thing and don’t accept the bullshit foisted upon them by the majority. Errr, well that’s what it sounds like to me anyway!

The final track “The Pain is Still Mine” deserves a mention too, it’s a complex multi-part epic weighing in at over 10 minutes. It mixes brain-busting riffs with a truly bizarre section that sounds like it should be in a musical and Ihsahn going overboard with his synth orchestra.

I came back to this five years after I bought it and I like it a lot more than I did when it came out. Definitely recommended to fans of Emperor, just don’t expect it to sound exactly like Emperor!

Eloy – Ocean (1977)

An amazing album! Lengthy tracks, lots of repetition rather than convoluted structure, mantra like bass and amazing drums! Seriously, the drums sound beautiful. The vocals are more like narration for the most part – something about Atlantis. My new new favourite!

Quella Vecchia Locanda – Quella Vecchia Locanda (1972)

Bloody great! Awesome Italian band, lovely use of repeating motifs and string themes. Overblown flute reminiscent of Jethro Tull but still completely their own band. – My new fave!

Osanna – Palepoli (1973)

Dark and weird Italian prog, excellent churning riffs from guitars and keyboards, some lead guitar and lovely saxophone bleatings. 2 epic tracks on this album. This ain’t no PFM.

Metamorfosi – Inferno (1973)

Keyboard trio from Italy, this album is apparently based on Dante’s “Inferno”(!!!) the vocalist is quite strange but really good, the music is not totally inspiring however. Doesn’t sound “Italian” enough.