Now this is impressive. Barely a year after forming, this doom-laden Belgian five-piece have seen fit to unleash a self-financed, self-released full-length album (actually it has been picked up by Aural – Pete ed) . If such a move screams of confidence then so be it, as it is entirely justified. To put it simply, even at this relatively formative stage of their career, Monads slay.

Their recipe is a fairly straightforward one that – through song writing deftness and an awareness of dynamics – seems fresh. A blending of dark, funereal doom, post-metal atmospherics and the yawning, abyssal bleakness of Esoteric is hardly smashing through the barriers of genre delineation. Nevertheless, there’s something so effortless about the way Monads go about their compositions that these songs manage by and large to transcend the trappings of their influences.

In itself, for a new band, this is an achievement in itself.  ‘The Stars are Screaming’ commences innocuously enough, the doom elements in full weighty swing whilst the atmospheric lead riffs heavily reminiscent of the oft-overlooked work of Morgion. There’s a conviction to the performances on this record that is palpable. The drums are purposeful and driving, the raw recording conveying the power and intensity of the playing. Guitars are deft and considered – the delicate, escalating interplay mid-way through ‘Broken Gates to Nowhere’ showing the vast majority of post-metal bands exactly how to create a crescendo whilst the resolution of the track is an exercise in monolithic reflection.

Vocalist R Polon perhaps takes the prize here though. His roars are colossal, delay-laden howls of sheer despondence. There’s no subtlety here, no attempt to lend light to proceedings through wistful clean vocals or any such pussy-footing around. Bowel-shaking malice is the order of the day and it makes ‘Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem’ a darker, more claustrophobic experience because of it.

The sudden appearance of blastbeats at the climax of the final song ‘Absence as in These Veins’ is another master stroke. It’s an unexpected finish to a song that seems to build and build under a compelling central refrain. Indeed, it brings to mind the warped, claustrophobic darkness of Ruins of Beverast as do some of the more distended sections earlier in the album. This is of course a compliment.

This is a record steeped in confidence and evident experience – its no surprise that Metal Archives links these guys with a number of other acts as, new band as they may be, this is clearly not the work of callow youths or those taking their first few steps into the world of extreme metal. If the band stumble briefly with the rather overextended trudge of ‘The Obsolete Presence’, it’s a minor blot in the copy book when taken in context.

As a debut, this is mightily impressive stuff and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out as to where these guys go next.

(9/10 Frank Allain)