There are albums that are difficult to review because of how you’ve been metered to expect them to be, compared to how they actually come out being. Monolithe’s third full length, fittingly titled “Monolithe III” concludes a trilogy of albums (each containing one fifty+ minute track) dealing with the birth of the universe. It’s been a long wait for this third installment to come down the line, but now that it’s here, I can honestly say this wasn’t what I was expecting. Monolithe’s previous albums, stand out as a form of uplifting funeral doom, slow and heavy, but enlightening and in a strange ethereal way, comforting. The second album contained a bit less diversity and more abrasiveness, making it a bit harder to digest, but still was an effective continuation of the Monolithe tale.
This third entry takes a surprisingly different route, but at its core retains the Monolithe sound. Rather then being dominantly funeral doom, there is a distinct focus on progressive metal tendencies, frequent riff changes, and a refusal to remain static. Whilst I’d not accuse the previous albums of being static, they functioned through the emphasis on repeated segments to achieve greater effect when revisited. Here the tendency is to progress through many stages, rather then dwell for more then a minute on any section.
It’s a surprising change of pace for Monolithe, but I for one, don’t find it too jarring. The problem does arise that some sections are not as inspired as others.
The speed of the music in the 52 minute track that makes up this album ensures that time flies past when listening, however what does strike me, even after the first listen, is that the transitions and segues between sections can come abruptly and the parts themselves do not add up to a completely seamless whole. This isn’t too problematic most of the time, but with the huge amount of sections on display, it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed and feeling a bit lost in the spiraling and constantly evolving epic.
The lyrics are relatively sparse, even by Monolithe standards, but they are powerful and effective growls and rumbles, fitting in well, even with the progressive edge given to the music. While I don’t feel this is up to the same powerful level as the first album, it’s certainly an audacious and powerful offering despite flaws with transition and the likelihood of alienating the listener if they have a short attention span. A 52 minute song demands an attentive listen. I think four stars will suffice for this release.
While some fans of Monolithe’s previous albums may not like the more progressive and sometimes abstract nature of the music, for me it hasn’t proved too detrimental.