monoJapanese post rock quartet mark their 17th anniversary with the release of 9th studio album ‘Requiem for Hell’. Heavily influenced by experimental rock and shoegaze, Mono are best known for their incorporation of contemporary classical music, noise and minimalism in their sound, aided by the lead and rhythm guitars of Goto and Yoda respectively, both of whom make extensive use of reverb, distortion and delay effects. What is immediately obvious with ‘Requiem for Hell’, however, is how much rougher around the edges the band sound compared to previous releases.

Mono weave together a rich tapestry of sounds that make up ‘Death in Reverb’, layering together a range of a tempos that meander through delicate guitar work and metronomic percussion, shrouded in smoggy feedback and noise. The emotive piano of ‘Ely’s Heartbeat’ is a definite album highlight, it elicits a beauty that infuses the hypnotic qualities of the reverb that suffuse the guitars. Songs span a sprawling duration, allowing for the full effect of ambience to elapse with full effect.

This record is by no means accessible; it’s a challenging listening experience and not one that can be tapped in and out of sporadically. The lengthy soundscapes sculpted by the band need to be enjoyed from start to finish in the right mindset or it can all too easily become forgettable background noise.

(7/10 Angela Davey)