Review: Two Shades of BLACK MONOLITH

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Variety is good, variety is great. I tend to do a lot with my day, and like many of you, I like to curate appropriate and multifaceted soundtracks that coincide with my ever-changing activities and moods. Trouble arises when, on occasion, I’m in two different moods simultaneously, and I resort to making a playlist that features tracks from two jarringly distinct tone realms in an attempt to satiate my audible duo-lust. I mean, what if I feel like somberly dragging a corpse barefoot through the woods, but also want to hack down some birch trees in a berserk, plant-murdering frenzy?

Thankfully, Black Monolith is here to make this shit easy on me by creating a record with two distinct, yet occasionally intermingling moods. Specifically, Passenger is a satisfying mix of black metal and d-beat crust punk.

Generally, the tracks on Passenger bounce back and forth between the two styles, giving the record a clear pacing. I love d-beat and find good black metal transfixing, but I sometimes struggle to make it through a full record of either genre because the power of the mood can quickly dwindle as my prog-addled mind craves a break from what I’ve heard over the last 8 minutes. Black Monolith’s ping-pong track order trick solves that problem, albeit with an occasionally garish manic-depressive technique.

The record kicks off with a pure black metal piece followed by a (mostly) typical d-beat banger, quickly establishing the parameters by which this record should be understood. The following tracks successively become more of a fusion: the vicious shoegaze of “Adhere” makes way for a double time drum break at the 3 minute mark, and some serene finger picking lets us down gently in the final third of the earnestly evil “Victims & Hangmen.” “Gold Watch” is the most successful blackened crust integration, managing to find common ground and natural transitions across the whole 9 minutes, whereas the other tracks may merely use an oppositely-aligned section as a novel genre piece to keep the song moving after the second chorus.

 

 

As Darkthrone did before, Black Monolith makes it clear that black metal and crust punk share enough of their respective gestalten to be considered part of a single project’s sound, even in their purified forms. However, in the case of Passenger, save for the triumph that is “Gold Watch”, I feel that chances were missed along the length of the LP to make one truly cohesive whole from the two disciplines. Then again, perhaps the strict dichotomy in the earlier part of the record is intentional, to show that the styles don’t need one another as a reactive crutch to be relevant or compelling.

I have to hand it to single band member Gary Bettencourt for the commendable drum programming. The parts are well written and reasonably detailed, and it took me until the 3rd track to be absolutely sure they were canned drums and not just an impressively robotic player. Overall, I give the drum production a B- (Heads up for all you drum programmers out there trying to recreate a human performance; the too-perfect 16th note snare fills of identical volume and tone are when it became glaringly obvious. Also, having the EXACT same hi-hat sound on every 8th note over the course of a song that’s seven minutes long is mighty fishy indeed).

Shout out to my good buddy and amusing social media personality Tom for pestering me to listen to this record. In the past few months I’ve joined a crust punk band and have been exploring black metal quite a bit more earnestly than I ever have before, so this record has really been hitting the spot. It’s available both on vinyl and as a pay-what-you-want download from All Black Recording Company, the spankin’-new brainchild of Deafheaven’s George Clarke. If you’ve read this whole thing and still give a shit, what’re you waiting for, homie?

1.5/5 FLUSHES

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  • Let it be known: this is a great review of a great album.

  • Howard Dean

    Nice job, HH! Great review! I’ll definitely be checking these guys out for some of my crusty and blackened needs.

    Also: That is some pretty good artwork. The ghoul on the left’s grin is downright creepy. I can’t tell if it’s maniacal, lecherous, or a little of both.

    • Negrodamus

      Definitely some lecherousness in there lol

  • Tyree

    Yes man! Well done, I’ve been waiting for this all day and it was worth the wait. This album is a perfect blend of raw black metal and crust and I’m picky when it comes to my blackened crust. Great band and great fucking album!

    • W.

      Tyree, I listened to that album released today by American. Some scathing BM!

      • Tyree

        I got to check them out. That was a good list today, I got some homework now to do later on. Horray!

        • W.

          No joke, dude. I couldn’t believe how many releases there were.

  • Mr. Bojangles

    boobs

    • 5318008

      • Mr. Bojangles

        1134

        • Drilldo Pillow

          Arntor

          • Randall Thor

            I gave my copy of this album to a metalcore kid a couple years ago. He lives in Seattle now. I pray that the seed is strong enough to help him grow into a tall and proud warrior.

          • Sometimes it’s better to try to save them rather than decapitate them on the spot. I keep forgetting this.

          • Randall Thor

            He had a noble heart, but his mind was clouded by false things. He helped me move once. I’ll never forget the young lad.

          • Drilldo Pillow

            Let’s hope that his noble heart has turned into a Heart of Storm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gpjy6Pt6ng

          • Gods bless you, sloth.

          • Randall Thor

            Let no man look down upon you. Act as a flame, shining the way for the ignorant, the peasants, the wimps, and the false, and guide them unto true glory.

          • Xan

            Such a good power metal band. I really hope they get back together at some point. The power of metal must be strengthened in my heart once again.

          • Scrimm

            Now I have to go dig my Windir shirt out of the closet.

          • Randall Thor

            I got a Drudkh shirt at MDF this year B)

          • Scrimm

            I am now officially jealous.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        867-5309 jenny
        Tommy Tutone
        Have no idea what’s going on,

        • Not Vincent Bennett

          Conan, did you hear about this box set? It’s a King Crimson box set for the album Starless and Bible Black with 22 CDs of live audio counting the three bonus audio discs and 2 DVDs and 2 Blu Rays. 29 discs of King Crimson, 29 discs! This is on top of the Road to Red box set that came out last year with every soundboard quality concert from the Red tour as well as the album.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        I am out of the loop today on the TOH but does this sum it up somewhat ?

        • ugh… i hate to say it, and i don’t even think it’s true (it feels like a drug-induced hallucination) bu we may have seen our first fight on the TovH. that’s all i have. i really hope it’s not true.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            I hope it’s the final fight. I hope there is no more fights because we’re all getting along so well except for yesterday.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I have a feeling that it won’t be.

          • Poop Mango

            I also hope it was the Final Fight. MIKE HAGGAR 4 MAYOR CLEAN UP METRO CITY

        • Metaphysical Anus

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        what happened to Miss Hilton. Is she at cannes or something ? It’s been awhile.

        • Miss Hilton graces us with his presence when he deems it necessary… and we are grateful for it. (and we are). noone knows this mystery!

        • Metaphysical Anus

          I don’t know. I have been wondering the same for a while now.

        • I talked with Miss Hilton over the weekend. Very busy but Paris will return to us eventually!

    • Ferris Mueller

      well-groomed bush is underrated.

    • Homo sapiens metallum

      And southern forests.

  • Drilldo Pillow

    “Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet!”

    Just kidding, it’s all well deserved! Dick sucks for everyone!

    • Cock of Steele

      (Raises ale mug in agreement)

      • Drilldo Pillow

        (Raises thermos of room temperature black coffee from edit bay in solidarity)

  • “Passenger” is a crazy tune. I’m way into it.

    • Tyree

      It’s crazy because I think that tune is more black metal sounding then crusty. I was super surprised at the second song “Dead Hand” because it’s super D-Beat and punk. I thought this was going to be a more black metal album than anything to be honest after I heard “Passenger”. NOPE!

      • This is just a really interesting album so far – I’m at “Eris” right now. Very atmospheric and slow-building tune. I dig it all.

    • Occams_Razor_Ramon

      I just assumed you were randomly talking about the Deftones song like some kind of weirdo

  • W.

    I dig your reviews, Hessian! Hope your tour slays with steel!

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    Damn you ToH and your ability to make me listen to things that I am almost positive I won’t enjoy, then end up loving.

  • Squibble Skwonk

    Even the heavier bits have a nice “haunting” vibe to them. I’ve never really been into this vocal style but it suits the music extremely well.

  • Why would there be a bush right there? Is it a live bush? Are there berries?

  • Not Vincent Bennett

    I’m going to have to give this a listen. Sounds amazing.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Goddamn I cannot get enough of this filthy blackened/punk shit. Nice find & review, HH.

  • Gorgasm

    Where has my good Finnish friend, Death, gone too?

    More relevant, this shit slays..good jamz, HESH!!!

    • Not Vincent Bennett

      I don’t know. I liked him too, but now he’s gone. It’s a shame but what can you do?

    • Metaphysical Anus

      I is backzies.

      • Gorgasm

        Scared me for a while there. Jumped off my house like three times and you never showed.

        • Metaphysical Anus

          I’m not important enough to jump off houses for.

  • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

    Those motherfuckers at failures for blogs ………………………..

    • Not Vincent Bennett

      It’s that bad? If so, that’s not going to be good in the long run.

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      Where you been man? The badlands? Remember that flick? Lol…

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        I was wondering where you were ? oh yea, badlands rules as far as road chase flicks go. Dirty mary, crazy larry & vanishing point are also untouchable. Dirty mary also has my favorite car ( 69 charger, same as the general lee).

        • Scrimm

          That’s a badass ride. This is my personal favorite.
          Probably not a surprise to Conan, haha.

          • TrickleDownTacoRiff

            nasty! what is that a fastback? kind of shady in that garage lol!

          • Scrimm

            Yeah it is lol. That is the 71′ Hemicuda from the Phantasm films.

          • TrickleDownTacoRiff

            niiiiice! hemicuuuuuuda!

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            I’ve always wanted a Hemicuda with the lime green paint and the black stripe on the side. They did sell Hemicudas in that color as I’ve seen them before.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            I love the Phantasm movies, yes even the sequels. I’m waiting for the fifth one that is in development hell. They keep on saying it will come out but it’s been announced since 2000 and has yet to come out.

          • Scrimm

            All four movies are awesome. I am practically a historian on the films lol. There have been several versions of 5 announced including the proposed remake in 05. The first story for 5 was in the late 90’s and was actually meant to be 4, but they had trouble with funding so the director made 4 instead with mostly his own money. You can find the phantasm 1999 script online. So happy to say though it is a different story that 5 is NOT in development hell any longer, they shot it in secret over the last couple years and will be out soon.It is called Phantasm RaVager. Here is the teaser. Some of the effects are not finished.That’s the stage the film is in now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1wOobOGa4w

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            Wait, they’re making the 5th one? Yay! Wikipedia says it comes out October 7th. Is that true?

          • Scrimm

            It is done filming, just in post production. I doubt the October 7th release, it was just said by one of the cast members in a recent interview but there has been no other word about that date and the whole thing has been quiet for a while. I would think if it was coming out that soon there would be a lot more press. My guess is sometime early next year. Also it was the tall man’s birthday earlier this week, dude’s almost 90 and still going strong. I am traveling to a convention in a couple weeks to meet the whole cast of the original, all of whom are in the new one.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            What convention? There was a horror convention down in Jersey that had quite a few people from different movies. Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan were there as well but I didn’t go as I live nowhere near where it was held. I live in between New York City and Albany and there was no way I was going to drive over three hours to get there.

          • Scrimm

            Monsterpalooza in California.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            Damn. Sounds awesome. The one in NJ is called Monster Mania and it’s in a giant hotel. I’ve heard good things about it though.

          • Scrimm

            I went to one here in AZ a couple months ago called Mad Monster Party that had Roddy Piper as well as many others. Very good time, though there wasn’t anyone I was dying to see Except for maybe Brad Dourif. Monsterpalloza is about an 8 hour drive but no way am I going to miss what will probably be my last chance to meet the cast of my favorite movie.

        • TrickleDownTacoRiff

          Yea ur right I’ve been on fb more then tovh lately. Yea those 70s era Bonnie and Clyde flicks were great…thats a badass car too.

    • Metaphysical Anus

      What’s failure for blogs?

  • crazytaco_12

    Nice review Hessian Hunter! Not trying to take away from the article, but I’m digging pretty hard on the new Nachtmystium album, but don’t want to write a review. Either way, I’d give it a 0.5/5 flushes, only lackluster in aspects of occasional monotony and infrequent “meh” lyrics. For me, it’s way better than “Silencing Machine”.

  • Randall Thor

    Finally got home and able to listen to this. AWESOME stuff

  • Scrimm

    ..

    • Scrimm

      Damn gifs. Oh well, the moment has passed.

  • George Clarke

    thank you for supporting my record label.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    This is great. I have never been that into punk, but when mixed with black metal, it’s great.

    • Not Vincent Bennett

      You gotta get the Road To Red box set by King Crimson. It’s got all the known tour recordings from the Red tour and on top of that it has a remaster of Red and the USA live album. Also, I just read they are making a Starless and Bible Black box set with 19 CDs of live material as well as a stereo remaster of Starless and Bible Black! I just told good old King Crimson to shut up and take my money!

      • Metaphysical Anus

        I would love to get it, but it’s expensive as fuck.

        • KJM

          You’ll spend so much you’ll have to eat cat food, cat food, cat food again.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I have dogs, so I’ll have to eat dog food.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            You haven’t even seen the price for the Starless one have you? It comes out on October 28th and it’s slightly more expensive than the one for Red.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            224,95 euros is way too much for me.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            It’s 225 dollars over in the US and the one for Red is 200 over here. I want to pick them up but I have bills to pay and stuff.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            You guys have it cheaper. 225 US dollars is around 169 euros.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            It’s cheaper here than over there? My god, that’s gotta be expensive.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Finland is quite expensive.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            I see. I’ve been trying to save up some money for both of the box sets and this Jaguar XJ6 I’ve got my eyes on but altogether it would cost over 2000 dollars for me to buy all three of those things.

  • Occams_Razor_Ramon

    That thing on the left. It haunts me.

    • Not Vincent Bennett

      I don’t want to know what it is either.