MONOLITHE - Zeta ReticuliWhat’s this – a new Monolithe already? Didn’t I write a review just 6 months ago? It is indeed so. Zeta Reticuli is advertised as the second part to 2015’s Epsilon Aurigae, and it’s a similarly expansive ode to the cosmos, conveyed through densely atmospheric doom metal replete with a plethora of spacey synths. While turning their sound ever further from funeral doom, this review would be largely similar to that of its predecessor but for a couple of differences I will note. It’s ethereal and chilling without disregarding the crushing heaviness one seeks in doom and remains a strong choice for doom aficionados.

The echoes of Epsilon Aurigae are clearly audible. Taking their long-winded, doomy roots, thick synths flesh out their soundscape and as before the 45 minute album is divided into 3 equal length tracks. The developments in Monolithe‘s sound, characterized by more fluid constructions and greater variety on Epsilon, are also present. Ambiance and cleaner guitar tones are sporadically used on “TMA-1” and surprisingly melodic keys ensure there is an alluring quality to proceedings. Much of Zeta follows these steps, equally trampling and mesmerizing. Around half way through my first listen I was questioning the function of this album in their discography as it seemed mere repetition of very recent work.

This question is satisfactorily answered by the second half. From 9:45 onward in the middle track, “TMA-1,” more new sounds are introduced. A dark ambient passage begins, featuring distorted natural samples which deviate from the space-oriented feel they otherwise strive for. It evokes some alien rain-forest and it ever-so-slowly transitions into the marching final passage. The gradual re-layering and dense textures used make for a formidable conclusion, especially given the relatively quick drumming. More even, the third and final track, “The Barren Depths,” breaks out clean vocals which represents a significant departure. They aren’t the strongest I’ve heard but there’s real depth and reasonable range demonstrated. Something like a hook is even offered around 4:00 and repeated at 9:50.

Monolithe - 2016

I don’t want to overstate these changes as much is similar to Epsilon but a greater willingness to deviate from the funereal just about keeps Zeta free from stagnation. The cleaner solos are more frequent and even faster and the drumming more deft as the the new skins-man is given more freedom to go beyond plodding percussion often used in doom. This feeling of freshness is aided by the far-improved production as established by Epsilon, with good dynamics and a great mix which facilitates a strong representation of the heavy and light(er) qualities here.

Zeta falls into that old cliché of ‘if you liked ’em before, you’ll like ’em now!’ It does enough to merit its own review and commentary, particularly regarding the clean vocals, but doesn’t stray far from Epsilon. I probably prefer it given its variety and the strong conclusions to “Ecumenopolis” and “TMA-1” but if Monolithe didn’t grab you before this won’t change that.

Rating: Good
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: |
Releases worldwide: July 8th, 2016

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  • AndySynn

    I really liked this myself, particularly “The Barren Depths” (the clean vocals are strongly reminiscent of Klone). It’d be a 4/5 from me.

    • Mr. Generous strikes again!

      • AndySynn

        Seems to line-up with the scoring system used here… 3 being “average” (in the most accurate sense of the word), 4 being “good”, 5 being “great”, surely?

        • Whatever gets you through those long nights.

          • AndySynn

            Home-cooked meth and German pornography mainly.

          • And Camels. Let’s not forgot about the Camels.

          • AndySynn

            What did you think I meant by “German pornography”?

          • Martin Roth

            Citation needed

          • sir_c

            Uhm… what has been seen cannot be unseen.

          • IBlackened

            One of the best things about this blog is the comments section.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Sounds like a true blue movie night…. With sausages!

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Well, these guys do essentially have enough band members to release 2 records and 7 one-man side-projects a year. Monolithe by name, monolith by nature.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    These guys may be abusing the good will they had after III. That record was great but they’ve released so much stuff that now it’s getting a bit old, isn’t it?

    • El_Cuervo

      I think this is why I didn’t feel I could give more than a 3. It’s very good but just… more.

      • The only thing though is that the last record was suppose to be a double release but they didn’t want to go all StS on everyone.

        Put simply, this is really the second “half” to the last album.

        • zerospacer

          They couldn’t just schammasch it all into one album?

          • tomasjacobi

            Well, the vinyl version has the whole thing on three LP’s

          • Yup.

  • I bought the last album based on the first track they released to promote it, but I thought the rest of the album went nowhere. It just had nothing memorable at all. It was probably 2/5 for me. I’ll give this a listen, but I’m not expecting much. I like the idea of spacey doom metal, but I don’t think the concept was taken anywhere near far enough on the last one. I didn’t find out particularly spacey, it was just… normal. It’s like all these black and death metal bands with awesome covers and you think you’re going to be transported to another world by the music. Then you press play and it’s just the same as any other music in the genre that could represent anything.

    • Try this one.

    • [not a Dr]

      You have to choose: space or atmosphere.

  • You wot m8?

    … because one can never have too much doom.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      There’s always room for more doom.

      • [not a Dr]

        I know someone who agrees.

  • Tom Hardy

    Real shame. They went from being an excellent Funeral Doom band to … this weak, commercial sounding, crowd appeasing music. We saw a bit of their softer side on III and I haven’t listened to last year’s album but I don’t think I’ll need to if it’s anything like this one.