The whole retro thing is quite big at the moment. Bands like Kadavar, Graveyard and Horisont are names we see quite often because they do it well. Obviously, the key to success is not pure imitation, but taking those late 60’s / early 70’s influences and forming them into something relevant to today while keeping the old flames well lit. Are Monolith in the same league as those mentioned and is there reason to pay them any more attention than the other dozens of bands doing a similar thing? “Mountain” is the German band’s second full length outing following on from 2014’s Dystopia and now with a fourth member – Jann Worthmann on bass. Having toured with hairy Berliners, Kadavar, they’ve had the opportunity to hone their craft and create a sound, that while definitely retro, is pretty cool too.
The smoky, doomy intro of the title track explodes into a very early Black Sabbath “Electric Funeral” sound. The production feels very live which gives it an honest quality. Ralf Brummerlohs’s vocals are interesting too. He has that snide, slightly maniacal Ozzy Osbourne phrasing but there’s also that snotty, bad boy aura of Bon Scott. “Mountain” has moments of classic head banging glory which leave expectations high for what is to follow.
“Doom” is a word thrown around quite a bit and you’re not going to get the density of an Electric Wizard here, but there is a certain atmospheric quality amongst what are very honest explorations of the classic rock and metal names. With the raw, proto metal riffs and fuzzy, wah-wah solos, you get touches of Sabbath’s first two albums – both instrumentally and vocally, plus nods to early Led Zeppelin and AC/DC.
“Moonshine Medication” has a seething, grunt of a riff that does its’ title justice and kicks you square in the head. The “gimme, gimme” response is so ’70’s and brings images of a sweaty, beer soaked club. This is a proper old boozy rocker. The band showcases another side in the slower, bluesy “Lies & Deceit” which has a nice, loose feel. The variety continues into “Tide”, with its’ slightly Eastern, psychedelic late Beatles era intro before a lovely crunchy riff that flows along beautifully. The album rounds off with the acoustic “Blackbird”. The sleazy harmonica and quirky lyrics conjure a Page and Plant vibe and leaves you in a good place.
While Monolith are set firmly in the retro mould there’s plenty to enjoy on this effort. Their influences are plain to see but they mix them up and combine them well. “Mountain” is a solid set of songs that work well together and I wouldn’t be surprised to see their name pop up more in the future.
(7/10 Johnny Zed)