Monolith – Dystopia

MONOLITH2 Photo by Fabian Sauer

It is very easy to have mixed feelings about Dystopia, the debut album from German doom rockers Monolith. On one hand it is so close to Black Sabbath in its sounding, with even vocalist/bassist Ralf Brummerloh offering a clone like Ozzy delivery as he unveils the individual narratives, that you struggle to pick out too much which makes a distinct and unique impact. Against that though, the release and songs are so magnetic and superbly presented that it is hard not to be compelled to indulge in its seventies seeded and sounding flight time and time again. It is an encounter which is sure to divide opinions but you suspect will persuade more than it disappoints.

Based in Bremen and formed in 2010, Monolith creates an atmospheric and sultry old school doom rock atmosphere which wears its heart and origins on every note and syllable expelled by the trio of guitarist Ron Osenbrück and drummer/backing vocalist Andre Dittmann alongside Brummerloh. Inspirations it is easy to assume include the likes of Electric Wizard and Pentagram but it is that Sabbath well where the heart and breath of the band’s first offering seems to be spawned from overall. With lumbering intensity and imposing predatory rhythms aligned to tightly binding grooves and searing psychedelic temptation, the predominantly live recorded Dystopia is a thick oppressive charm to easily enjoy, if probably not to be inspired by.

The album immediately engulfs ears with deep pulsating riffs, gripping rhythms, and a growling almost carnivorous bass sound, the latter persistently pleasing bait across the whole of the release. Won’t Come Down is an immediate Cover Artwork by Rocket & Winkand sizeable tempting to start things off, not a particularly dramatic offering against subsequent tracks but a clear hint of what is in store. The song strolls with a heavy yet eager gait, grooves and caustic sonic flames holding a creative grin as they smart against the senses and imagination. The vocals of Brummerloh as mentioned also show their influence boldly, whether by choice or coincidence, but still make an enjoyable colour in the sultry scenery of the song and its swagger fuelled, contagious chorus.

The strong start is matched and pushed a tad further by the following Cosmic Fairy. From a delicious throaty bass coaxing and a swiftly joining blaze of seventies washed acidic guitar, the track holds a steady and even stride framed by similarly gaited rhythms. Though the song does not have the infectious lure of its predecessor, it burns and sizzles with striking designs of sonic venture from Osenbrück to certainly grip attention and awaken a keen appetite for the unfurling proposition.

The next up Hole roughly caresses ears with an initial hot scrub of fuzz filtered guitar and a dark bass tone with an almost demonic tremolo resonance to its malevolence. Smouldering in breath and citric in flavour, the track winds around thoughts and emotions with potent melodic and hazy hues, easily recruiting intrigue and enjoyment. Again though there is no escaping the comparison to the Birmingham legends which dilutes any chance of passions raging before its undeniable skilled and appetising incitement, something applying across the whole of Dystopia to be honest.

The dark uncompromising title track slowly wraps its heated climate around senses next, it’s slowly imposing doom sourced evocation a thick engaging swamp of ebbing and flowing enticement which pleases without sparking real fire in the belly. Its successor Acid Rain employs similar intrusive textures amidst entwining spirals of sonic tempting and a great incendiary flame of funk infused adventure, to explore a successful but barely lingering path.

The album concludes with two highly satisfying encounters, firstly the infectious hip swinging Sleepless Eye. With its transfixing addictive lures and expressively charismatic melodic web of invention, it is the best track on the album; a richly enterprising treat of a song which is unafraid to glide through energetic festivity to suffocating doom crafted shadows, every twist lit by scorching guitar play. The closing Rainbow provides an epic journey of seismic intensity and rhythms within virulent psychedelic smog of imposing weight and heavy metal structures. It is a predator of a track, stalking and preying on the psyche whilst unleashing a contagion packed net of rapacious endeavour. Monolith saved the best encounters to the rear of the album, a closing packed with potential and more originality than shown before but still within well-trodden avenues.

There is no getting away from the core recognisable sound of Dystopia and its inspiration but even with that Monolith provides a strongly enjoyable and easy to return to release which has to be classed as a success.

Dystopia is available now via Finalgate Records @ http://finalgaterecords.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Monolith.doomrock

7.5/10

RingMaster 09/07/2014

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T-Rex: Electric Warrior Deluxe Edition

April 23rd sees the release of multi format editions of Electric Warrior by T-Rex to help mark the year which is the 40th Anniversary of Glam Rock. The album comes as a single CD, a deluxe edition 2 disc edition, or a triple CD Super Deluxe version. Marc Bolan and his band was without doubt the most important artist of the genre and age, but though most acclaim him sometimes his far reaching influence to bands and musician through the following years until now gets unrecognised or forgotten. Electric Warrior was and still is a mighty album, a release that twangs the heart and stirs up the emotions through classic track after another. The new release celebrates that fact, the band, he and the anniversary of the genre, it is an album that has touched and will continue to inspire musicians and fans alike, new or old.

One has to be honest when first hearing and approaching this package there was not a complete enthusiasm for it. Listening to it first before researching the full details left one feeling enthused yet confused initially, not so much on the content but why, who it was for, and was there an element of taking advantage of fans of the band. The more one looked into it an understanding and appreciation dawned and grew for each individual version.

The single CD version of the album is a must have for anyone who has a feeling for the band. The album topped the UK album charts twice, from December 18th 1971 to January 29th 1972 and again from February 5th to February 19th 1972. It is bursting with songs we all know to heart and the disc is a refreshing reminder of the talent and wealth of quality the album gave. This Tony Visconti’s re-mastered version has the complete album plus four bonus tracks, the b-sides There Was A Time / Raw Ramp, King Of The Mountain Cometh and Woodland Rock, plus the brilliant single Hot Love. At around £6.99 this album is a definite must have.

The two disc Deluxe edition is where at first there was a reticence until realizing it is geared for existing fans with an already deep hearted love for the band, though there is much there for the passer by too. Alongside the single album the second disc offers up an array of for the most previously unreleased demos and out-takes. With tracks ranging from the Electric Warrior Poem (a rare us radio promo), through working versions of songs like Electric Boogie, Monolith, and Life’s A Gas, to home acoustic versions of Planet Queen  and Get It On. There are twenty one tracks that for enthused fans will thrill and please immensely and after giving it a mass of deliberate attention it has to be said there is enough to interest and satisfy less ardent fans too such as the excellent studio out-take cover of the rockabilly classic Honey Don’t by Carl Perkins. At a cost of around £12.99 for the deluxe version it is a good price for a different look into Bolan and this music as well as having the original album with its treats.

The Super Deluxe on top of the two CDs contains a DVD consisting rare and unreleased TV performances and promos including the only two surviving Top of the Pops performances from the BBC archive, live performances of Life’s A Gas and Cosmic Dancer, plus promos for Jeepster and Get It On plus more. It also comes with a 32-page hardback book featuring a brand new essay from Bolan biographer Mark Paytress, a poster, a coaster and more all wrapped  in a lavish box which is foil blocked and de-bossed. This will be around £30 and on reflection is still an agreeable amount for the substantial sounds and physical elements within.

There are also a special double LP vinyl version and digital exclusive editions available so something for your preference. As mentioned earlier first thoughts upon the initial introduction and listen to the release was mixed with a thought of exploitation of die-hard fans being involved but the package dispelled that after close focus, its contents and admittedly the pricing truly being a celebration of an icon and era.

To celebrate Record Shop Day on April 21st there is also an especially produced very limited edition T-Rex box set of vinyl singles, Electric Sevens, containing four 7” singles pressed on heavy weight vinyl and featuring unique sleeves.

RingMaster 18/04/2012

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