(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

666 (2005), 7/10
Speak Of The Sea (2006), 6/10
Die Tonight (2007), 6/10
Mer Morte (2008), 6/10 (mini)
Sabbat Noir (2010), 6/10
Omens (2012), 6/10
Sabbracadaver (2014), 5/10

Thergothon's super-slow doom had its own disciples in the 2000s. French trio Monarch wed the demonic vocals of a female singer (Emilie Bresson) with catatonic beats, basically stretching each riff to the limit of human tolerance. The three colossal agonies of the double-disc 666 (Solitude, 2005), A missile of feedback rips repeatedly through the lethargic pace of Dead Men Tell No Tales (14:08), setting the stage for the vocalist's desperate shriek amid zombie-like lumbering beats. Slow-burning guitars and elephantiac beats punctuate the vocalist's cries from hell in the endless expressionistic kammerspiel of Somewhere Below the Devil is Laughing (36:35). The soliloquy gets catatonic and subhuman, but one waits in vain for some sort of resolution: there is no end to agony, and the ending is merely a bit more emphatic. For eleven minutes Les Lumieres Have Been Blown Out (35:14) is even slower, a distant rumble, and silent; then the rumble gets louder and the guitar begins riffing in earnest; and by minute 18 the shriek is beginning to surface through the cracks of the monolithic plodding. Melody pops up around minute 21 and finally the music and the vocals explode (basically there was a 23 minute calvary-like introduction to the "song"). This is less of a vocalist's show than a collective implosion. Suddenly the music spirals down into pure industrial noise.

The two blurred and disjointed dirges of Speak Of The Sea (Throne, 2006) found a balance between the kammerspiel of Somewhere Below the Devil is Laughing and the ambient doom of Les Lumieres Have Been Blown Out. Shards of feedback constitute the main landscape of We Are The Music Makers, evoking altered states of mind, and the vocals soon come to match that mood with their slow, painful soliloquy that undergoes ups and downs but fundamentally never lets up. A completely different dynamics rules the stately stoner blues Speak Of The Devil Speak Of The Sea: the vocals are mixed low in the slow-motion rumble and it takes about 13 minutes to hear a real scream. Unfortunately, this second piece fails to coalesce.

By then the emphasis of the sound had shifted from old-fashioned horror to a more psychological thriller. The two excruciating ceremonies of Die Tonight (Throne, 2007 - Music Fear Satan, 2015) continued to drill into the psyche of a black hole. The snail-paced Winter Bride opens with the usual prolonged instrumental rumble and then leaves the field open to the vocalist's verbose self-flagellation, but too little happens to justify the long wait. The solemn droning distortion of Swan Song, with the vocals hidden inside the rumble instead of riding it and used in an almost percussive manner (one scream per beat) achieve a more disturbing effect.

Dead Men Tell No Tales (Crucial Blast, 2007) is a double-disc compilation of Speak Of The Sea and Die Tonight.

The two pieces of the mini-album Mer Morte (Throne, 2008) did not add much to the canon. Mer relies on a more subdued rumble and downplays the vocals. Morte borders on somnolent, with languid wails in the background instead of the usual shrieks, and its devotion to minimal music ends up delivering a stronger atmosphere.

The 16-minute Rapture on the split album with the Grey Daturas, Dawn Of The Catalyst (2007), is notably mainly for the vocalist's new sabre-rattling tone within the usual cloud of guitar distortions.

The 29-minute piece of the LP Sabbat Noir (Heathen Skulls, 2010), featuring Grey Daturas' drummer Robert MacManus, and the eleven-minute piece of the EP Sortilege (Heathen Skulls, 2011) veered even closer to lugubrious ambient music.

The psychedelic element became prominent on Omens (At A Loss, 2012), fueled by angelic chanting and cosmic guitar noise, while the 19-minute Black Becomes The Sun hinted at an even more creative synthesis of doom-metal and acid-rock, with the shrieks mostly replaced by sidereal echoes.

Ironically, the better produced Sabbracadaver (Profound Lore, 2014) ended up sounding more amateurish, with screams that wouldn't scare a child in Louves, and a mournful melody emerging out of the martial plodding of Pentagrammes that seems to mock vintage horror soundtracks.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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