Review: Monads – IVIIV

Monads is a Belgium based five-piece (funeral) doom metal band, founded early in 2011. The word monad comes from the Greek word for unit, and has a variety of uses in, among others, philosophy and music, in the latter of which it is used to name a single note or pitch. Considering Monads’ field of play, doom metal where emphasis on each single note is inherent to the slow pace of the music, they chose their name wisely. Since their foundation it has been eerily silent around them. Save a well-produced demo in their early years called Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem, that has received some great critics, they have more or less ignored the music world up until now, supposedly to refine and grow. The sentence ‘chasing growth and perfection’ is music to my ears, although it on the other hand makes me a bit cautious. Either they actually did grow and neared perfection to whatever extent or this statement means they were not on the same page music- and/or composition-wise. Regardless which of the two is true, they have now completed their first full-length release called IVIIV, a four-song, 50-minute journey through the coldness of the barren planes of doom metal.

And coldness there is in Monads’ music, an abundance of it in fact, perfectly mixed with a huge dose of melancholy on IVIIV. The two combined create a desolate yet oppressive atmosphere that inevitably will affect your mood as this journey progresses. Monads’ interpretation of the slow, heavy, burdening sound that is the trademark of the funeral doom metal genre may not be particularly innovative, but the execution more than makes up for that. The guys have obviously put a lot of time and attention into the composition as well as the production of the four songs, making this release a perfect example of what a (funeral) doom metal album is supposed to sound like in my humble opinion. That may not sound as a big deal, but to me it in fact is. They have taken the genre in its current, modern form, stripped it from the unnecessary accumulated pollution that has obscured the genre throughout the years to reveal its bare essence and took that essence to the next level by adding their own essence to the mix.

Everything on this release is spot on: The heavy, at times excruciatingly slow riffs, the discrete yet determinative rhythm section, the deep, crushing growls that depict pain in all its forms, it’s all there, executed to near perfection. They even managed to avoid a common pitfall within the funeral doom metal genre, monotony-induced boredom, by ingeniously weaving a few faster passages into their compositions. These passages flirt with both death and black metal without compromising the essence of Monads’ preferred genre, quite an impressive feat in my opinion. To top it off the compositions are shrouded in a bone-chilling atmosphere thick with hurt, despair and melancholy, making the impression IVIIV leaves even more remarkable and indelible.

I think it’s safe to say that the six years of silence Monads have allowed themselves to do some introspection and try to refine and grow towards perfection have more than paid off. From the first careful, preparatory tones of Leviathan As My Lament to the hesitant, almost desperately hopeful piano outro that concludes both The Despair Of Aeon as IVIIV itself, this release has an impact that will leave its mark on you. The massive wall of carefully composed sound relentlessly test your senses to the extreme, albeit in a, for lack of a better word, pleasant way. This is by far the best (funeral) doom album I have heard in a long, long time, a no-brainer for fans of the genre and a great opportunity for everyone else. Seriously recommended by yours truly.

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