Friday, March 15, 2013
REVIEW: BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH - DEFENDER, REDEEMIST
Behold! The Monolith’s self-titled debut boasts one of my favorite album covers: A strangely cuddly axe-wielding warrior creature, equal thirds silverback Gorilla/Sasquatch/Wookie, triumphantly rides an armored red-eyed war-stag, roaring his intent to shampoo his fur with the blood of his enemies. I have no idea what that creature is, but it means business and it’s totally bad ass. Behold! The Monolith’s music is similarly difficult to identify, but why even bother when it leaves such a fun, playful, and dynamic impression?
Defender, Redeemist may not have a cuddly barbarian on the cover, but it does feature a knight-steered space griffin and possesses a sense of adventure that evades most doom-centric bands. Sure, there are long passages that grunt forward like a zombified snail, but there are also flashes of thrash, dusty southern rock licks, and splashes of blackened sound that texture the album start to finish. “Halv King” pummels with a Motorhead-by-way-of-prehistoric hardcore sneer and album highlight “We Are the Worm” finds the mysterious middle-ground between High on Fire and ZZ Top and dances in that neutral territory with half of an opponent’s bleached skull fastened as a jock strap. After some way-groovy, spaced-out ambience “Redeemist” launches into a doom jam that just starts to overstay its welcome when the trio stomps into new territory with bluesy swagger, their beards most definitely swinging to the tasty metal licks before some haunting clean finger-picking and fuzzed out vocals lead you down yet another twisted, hidden path. It’s an ambitious, tenacious song that captures Behold! The Monolith’s essence in one burly, schizophrenic track.