A monad is the first, an originator or most simple building block from which everything else comes. All of which somehow nicely sums up the inescapable feeling when listening to this type of slow ‘n’ heavy metal – that this is the genre in its most basic, undiluted and honest form. As ever, the funeral doom of Monads weaves together doom, death metal but with an all-consuming ambience that makes listening to the band an enriching experience. Not so different to the rest of this often underrated but darkly opulent sub-genre then? Well, this is the first full release since the band’s debut demo six years ago which caused a bit of a stir and was really a demo in name only, excelling in quality, doom-friendly production and, at almost an hour, length in a way that most demos can’t pretend to do. Those that lapped up that majestic slab from these Belgian misery merchants have had a long wait – as Monads guitarist Hans Cools points out in the liner notes. But, he says, this is not for want of the front man and the rest of the band’s effort.
What’s hard to deny is that this, despite the hype around the demo, is straight down the line funeral doom, albeit with a smattering of blackened shoegaze. What’s also impossible to ignore is that IVIIV undeniably has something more. That glistening formula that takes certain funeral doom bands from the rank and file and propels them into the upper echelons of the reverberating hierarchy. At first it’s just a feeling, because there are no gimmicks here. The pull of IVIIV is purely down to subtlety, structure and song writing. A slowly evolving realisation that Monads is capable of delivering everything you need from a funeral doom album but also crafted for more demanding palates. Is it the gravitational pull of those giant riffs, the geological shifts that occasionally let the light in or block it out altogether? Is it the heart-wrenching leads that even manage to derail the irresistible force of tracks like Leviathan As My Lament? Or the drifting ambience that then breezes in with perfect harmony against the tectonic distortion? It’s not always easy to say other than IVIIV often shrugs off the simplicity of other funeral doom bands – and that the elongated tracks begin to slowly, imperceptibly breath into life before you even realise that the great grim mound you’re lying next to while staring at the bleak darkening sky is actually shifting into life. What is also as clear as the dusty blood-inked parchment that this album was so obviously written is the abundance of emotion with which IVIIV was assembled. It bleeds from every track and in every one of the albums multitudinous twists and turns that fill Monads’ work with an air of restlessness born from life’s never-ending trials and of resignation that more will follow.
Despite being six years in the making, IVIIV never departs from the threads of familiarity that are woven through it making it all the more impressive that, in one sitting, it’s possible to get so heavily drawn in. Clearly this is music that needs effort and, mostly, time. Dipping in just won’t do. This is funeral doom with an inbuilt vintage, an event all of its own, and one that requires your undivided attention and a large glass of something that let’s you slip into this deceptively captivating tide.
(8/10 Reverend Darkstanley)