How time flies when you’re contemplating the infinite nature of cosmic existence. It’s less than a year since I reviewed Monolithe’s last album for this very website and, in a sub-genre not generally known for rushing things, that level of productivity is verging on the hyperactive. Almost disrespectful, really. Funeral doom, or cosmic funeral doom as consensus seems to prefer for Monolithe, is all about the slow, building anticipation so the arrival of ‘IV’ so soon after its predecessor has left the band’s fans in something of a head spin. Perhaps the band is taking the piss. In fairness, this is actually the final part of the four part cycle and, sonically, picks up on a similar level where they left off in November last year. It is definitely the most intriguing of the four parts, In fact, if heads are spinning in anticipation, they’ll be flying off their hinges when they hear this.
Monolithe have hit upon something of a winning formula and, judging by this, achieving consistency has not been so difficult. Each of the three previous full-length releases since 2003 have been single track albums and all coming in just shy of an hour’s worth of music. What more could a funeral doom fan want from a band? Each has been as much Pink Floyd or ultra-slow 70s space rock as it has been gothic, cassock-wearing snail-paced doom. No navel-gazing, spiralling into depression and retiring to a forsaken monastery here. More a monk-like inner journey of boundless discovery and a constantly changing one at that.
Despite what the name and the track count might suggest, there is nothing singular or immutable about Monolithe. Sure, there is a point at about 15 minutes in that you get an awkward feeling you’re going to be disappointed – trapped within some trudging dissonant warp. But then things start to bend and fold and before you know it you’re glancing the time and wishing there was another hour or two to go, never mind another 24 minutes.
While the first half an hour is most definitely born from Monolithe parts I-III, the last half pushes onwards and upwards into a new sphere altogether. Always solidly grounded in the band’s fundamental sound but edging out into the realms of head-screwing, trippy experimentation that instantly promotes Monolithe from a good band to a great band. Not only that, but some memorable synapse-clutching melodies thrown in to the bargain. If this is the kind of output were going to get every year from this band then we are in luck. This is the best from Monolithe yet, and that is not said lightly.
It’s all very impressive for a genre that constantly threatens to stagnate. Perhaps for that reason and more, doom and its more awkward gloomy mate funeral doom seem to be the source of some interesting work at the moment and surprising with increasing regularity.
(8/10 Reverend Darkstanley)