Monolith – No Saints No Solace Review

My tolerance for the often maligned deathcore subgenre received a boost of newfound optimism on the back of stellar 2019 releases from scene heavyweights, Shadow of Intent and Fit for an Autopsy. Both bands demonstrated the sick grooves and punishing, over-the-top brutality and technical chops, reminding me of a time long ago where bands like All Shall Perish and early Despised Icon tore me a new one. Yet, more often than not the style falls flat to my jaded ears. Perhaps an unsigned UK deathcore outfit may not be the best choice to pull myself out of a writing rut, but I’ll be damned if I’m not ready to take the plunge and hope for minor miracles. Taking a DIY route, Monolith arrive with their self-released and produced debut LP, entitled No Saints No Solace.

Anyone that hasn’t liked the deathcore or djent movements previously will find nothing to sway their opinions here, despite Monolith’s energetic delivery and solid instrumental skills. This is djentified deathcore of the ultra slick, modern variety, replete with sci-fi synths, chunky, generic guitar tone and rather unimaginative mid-ranged growls. Short opener “TRTQ” spends too long with its life machine beeping before a goofy heavy vocal kicks in and the fun officially begins as a chunky, faceless groove briefly takes hold. First impressions don’t inspire much confidence. “Funerary” throws the odd interesting rhythmic curveball, but the jagged, stuttering riffs sound both derivative and unremarkable at the same time. The band’s stuttery, polyrhythmic assault owes a debt to Meshuggah, albeit in a much less remarkable, deathcore context.

Credit where credit is due, Monolith inject tons of energy and chunky riffage into the fray, attacking their respective instruments with exuberance and solid technical proficiency, sounding like a tight unit on a musical front. After the first few tunes fail to raise much excitement, bar the odd interesting riff or rhythm, fourth track “Nightmarcher” pulls the album temporarily out of its rut, delivering some blistering speed, blackened bite and atmospheric flourishes into a tightly composed and reasonably compelling slab hinting at the hidden potential Monolith perhaps possess. More songs dabbling in this aggressive and inspired approach would have been welcome. The heavier wallop and controlled pacing of “Enslave” also features some solid moments. However, momentum dissipates in the wake of less inspired numbers, such as the clunky, meandering “Litost,” and typically repetitive chug of “Mortal Sin.”

No Saints No Solace concludes with the loosely connected three part “Atonement” suite. There’s a little more experimentation and ample groove stuffed into these tracks, but again the hooks are lacking. Part three and closing track “”The Conqueror Worm” fares better than most of its counterparts on the album. While offering nothing overly different, here the writing is sharper, the arrangement more complex and dynamic, while there’s some decently heavy moments within. Overall, for every fleeting moment of intrigue, there are simply too many deficiencies to warrant any sort of solid recommendation. The production is rather faceless and clinical, riffs tend to blur into each other, while the hooks are just not there. Throw in a generic vocal performance and lackluster writing and the album’s rare bright spots are extinguished by overwhelming blandness and unformed ideas. The aforementioned “Nightmarcher” certainly rips though.

If you happen to be a deathcore skeptic awaiting an album that will change your view on the style, unfortunately No Saints No Solace isn’t the album you’re looking for. Competent performances aside, Monolith lack the identity, flair and song-writing potency to elevate themselves from being another deathcore footnote, into a substantial entity. No Saints No Solace represents another missed opportunity.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Release Date: March 1st, 2020

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