Having been successfully teased by its first two tracks cast as a single a few weeks back anticipation for the new album from German alternative-gothic outfit MONO INC. was rife. In preparation for checking out The Book of Fire we leapt back into the first time we came across the Hamburg based band, that being seventh album Nimmermehr, to just remind ourselves of the evolution of their sound. It was a reminder that MONO INC. creates music which has always been wholly individual to them, one embracing a host of flavours and styles and the familiar essences within them but with a growth which never settles for a lack of exploration as proven by their outstanding eleventh studio album.
Formed back in 2000, the quartet of vocalist Martin Engler, drummer Katha Mia, guitarist Carl Fornia and bassist Manuel Antoni have created a bold new presence and adventure within the successor to their previous acclaimed album, Welcome to Hell. A concept album, The Book of Fire tells the complete story of young healer/witch Aellin in the era of inquisition told across 12 captivating chapters, the album an “earbook” for the senses and imagination exploring her ownership of the Book Of Fire as chosen by the mystical artefact containing the secret knowledge of centuries itself. Fair to say the story alone proved enough to captivate but it comes wrapped and entangled in songs and sounds which equally just fascinated.
The Book of Fire begins with its title track, a gentle engaging melody on a piano welcoming attention before the song breaks into its scene setting canter. Already lyrics through the fine tones of Engler cast a social landscape and teasing intrigue, its bold physical and picture setting urging an infestation of light and shadows, calm and beauty challenged by an impending threat and darkness.
The instinctive catchiness of the surging gothic rock/folk scented encounter even in its slower reflective moments is a potent trait across the whole of the album, the following Louder Than Hell similarly an infectiously stirring incitement this time embroiled in a great electronic rock/industrial bred wind across tenacious heavy rock nurtured textures. Vocally Engler and Mia combine to enthralling effect in a chorus which echoes the contagious dynamism of a song which swiftly had the body bouncing though too there is a siren like enchantment to it.
Warriors is next up, emerging on a keys woven string caressed calm and vocally understanding. From that elegance a rising of tribal confidence and arousing incitement sweeps song and ears alike, its nobility and muscle security and strength within the shadows bound proposal and approaching dark horizons. The band’s latest single, it effortlessly got under the skin as too its successor Shining Light which features Tilo Wolff of Lacrimosa. If the album already had us gripped, the fourth track simply had us enslaved. From its first second, the song’s virulent stroll swathed in golden harmonies ignited the imagination, every note and sound as haunting as they are magnetic. Engler’s vocals and the controlled but lively rhythms of Mia and Antoni simply induced thought and body too while its chorus was the spark for vocal participation, keys working on an instinctive body sway. The song is superb, one of the most potent tracks heard in a while and surely a great choice for next single.
There is no let-up in temptation and rousing exploits as Where The Raven Flies rides in, guitar and rhythms springing another invasive catchiness accentuated by the piano. Those keys continue to engage and inspire the imagination as the song relaxes, a thoughtful mellowness descending though quickly from its embrace senses stalking beats swing their muscle to emphasize the tempting rather than break it. Across its emerging body, the track epitomises the unpredictability and invention within the release shaping it with melodic craft and poetic intimation.
As the likes of The Last Crusade, with its anthemic breath and great bass nagging, and the dark folk metal scented Death or Life coat ears in thick craft, enterprise and stirring emprise, band and album only strengthened the temptation and pleasure, the following pair of Nemesis and Right for The Devil with their respective darkly soulful serenade and groove metal toned electro industrial exploits just as irrepressible and irresistible. The latter has Teufel of Tanzwut guesting within its almost predatory saunter, a fanfare of fire icing on its creative cake.
Though Run for Your Life with its classic metal lined character might not have sparked the lust of others it effortlessly had the body and spirit abound while The Gods of Love ignited those same elevated reactions with its rapacious march and predation steeled textures. It proved another major highlight within the continuing peaks of the album, voice and sound alike galvanic around just as potent words before in bringing things to a close, What Have We Done shares the rich drama and enterprise as well as eager imagination behind the whole of The Book of Fire. The finale is a roar of emotive realisation and dark rapacity honed into another exceptional adventure, an epilogue which haunts as it breeds the despair of those within.
The Book of Fire is a stunning encounter and the finest moment with MONO INC. to date. Every second had us enthralled and aroused, every moment in the narrative and presentation a theatre of craft and temptation within a sound as intrepidly bold and darkly valorous.
The Book of Fire is available now via SPV / NoCut and ADA / Entertainment One.
THE BOOK OF FIRE TOUR 2020
06.03.20 – Münster, Skaters Palace
07.03.20 – Köln, Carlswerk Victoria
12.03.20 – München, Backstage Werk
13.03.20 – Nürnberg, Z-Bau
14.03.20 – Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
15.03.20 – Pratteln, Z7
20.03.20 – Berlin, Columbia Halle
21.03.20 – Leipzig, Haus Auensee
27.03.20 – Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle
28.03.20 – Stuttgart, Im Wizemann
29.03.20 – Saarbrücken, Garage
03.04.20 – Hannover, Pavillon
Pete RingMaster 16/02/2020
Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright