There are certain sounds and styles of music that can induce nightmares. You experience these sounds that are out of the ordinary, maybe even in conflict with your own psyche, and they can lead to you experiencing terrifying stories in your head while you sleep at night. Or at least you think they can do that. It’s up to you if that’s a thing you’re able to handle.
I always found French funeral drone doom band Monarch one of those that could illicit terrifying thoughts in my head. Their music feels less like deliberate compositions and more like stream-of-consciousness experiences, where you get a head-on trip into what they’re trying to let loose. Over the course of their seven records, they have set up surreal soundscapes, transmissions that sound like they’re transported from some sort of lost dimension that traps souls, and music that easily can get underneath your skin and freeze you. They’re not your everyday doom band, and their records often take repeated visits for the material to sink in just right. Same can be said for their three-track new record “Sabbracadaver,” their first for Profound Lore and follow-up to 2012’s great “Omens.” Here, the band is totally immersed in their own nightmares, translating all of the dark, violent shadows for you and weaving a mystifying world of horrors that only your nighttime excursions in your bed possibly could match. They’re a breath-taking band, one of my favorites in this genre.
One of the main reasons Monarch are so mesmerizing is vocalist/electronics artist Emilie Bresson, whose work is fairly hard to describe. She has pipes that won’t quit, and she can wail bloody murder along with the best of them, but there’s something more to her that’s an intangible quality. She is a sweeping force, a voice that you just can’t get out of your system. Her singing sounds more like she’s channeling something greater than her, acting as a conduit or messenger, and you practically can imagine her shaking and writing as she adds her voice to these songs. That’s not to slight her band, who also deserve a ton of credit, including guitarist Shiran Kaidine, bassist MicHell Bidegain, and drummer Rob Shaffer, who combine to create a sinister low end full of drone and power, and you could find it caving in your chest cavity in a live setting. The band’s work on “Sabbracadaver” proves they have plenty more to say, added spirits to release, and doom thunder still blasting through their collective bloodstream. It’s both mighty and outright chilling.
The 17:15-long opener “Pentagrammes” unveils a heavy, thick blanket of drone that immediately blackens the surroundings. A dream haze sets in, but just as it seems like calm will prevail, the power ignites, with slow drizzling doom and Bresson whispering ominously, almost like she’s trying to disarm you. Eventually an elegant funeral doom flood rises up and spills over, and Bresson switches over to her monstrous, anguish-filled wail that should stop you dead in your tracks out of awe, fear, or both. The track continues to lurch along its way, letting feedback glimmer build, before it gives way to destructive crushing that leads toward the end. Some gorgeous singing that feels eerie and ghostly bubbles up, and buzzing noise gets ready to bury you deep. “Louves” is the shortest of the trio, but still runs 10:14, and it has a wealth of melody and well as more penetrating drone. The path the band walks is emotional and musically rich (some of the passages remind of Pallbearer), and the mix of dastardly ugliness, beautiful soundscapes, and angelic weirdness give this one its bizarre character.
The 18:32-long closer “Mortes” is a perfect capper, a sort of summary of everything that came before it. The song lights up and glows over its first minutes, with more noise buzzing, and Bresson, practically in a hushed tone, calling, “I’m just a shadow.” The pace continue gently, but just as Bresson sings, “Winter in my heart,” the bottom drops out, and the fire begins to ignite. The electronics simmer and give off blinding light, the song drubs heavily and with as crushing a manner as possible, and when Bresson’s most damaged screams arrive, the song takes a sharp turn toward spiritual horror. Sometimes the song makes you feel like you’re walking through a mist in an isolated forest, and at others, the pained delivery is like the band is grasping onto the last fibers of hope and health. The song heads back into more drone, vocals switch back and forth from whispers to wails to bloody cries, and the last moments of pounding finally relent and drown out in a synth haze. You’ll probably need to take a breath in order to digest what you just heard. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll take the journey all over again.
Monarch never fail to captivate with their music, and “Sabbracadaver” has the band sounding as powerful, scary, inspired, and dark as ever. The band is still growing with every record, and they always find ways to reach new heights, as terrifying as those may be. The songs should be astonishing to witness live, which should be an enlightening experiencing watching Monarch recreate those dark spirits that inspired them to create these transmissions. If see you see ghosts and ghouls spilling forth during those live experiences, you hardly can be surprised.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monarch/121146434822
To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/
For more on the album, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/