Background/Band at Hand: The doom metal scene in the UK has been a prominent one dating back several decades. Since the foundation of this traditional heavy metal subsequence, the doom metal essence has had an influence on other genres that followed and consequently resulted in a community of fans that spans many different regions of the world. These days, many individuals assume the traditional brand of doom to be an extinct one. However, Monolith Cult, a metal act hailing from West Yorkshire, England, strives to continue the trad-doom formula and remained active in their genre since their late 2012 inception, releasing two full-length albums thus far and performing currently under the Transcending Records label. In about two weeks time from the writing of this review, this metal group shall release their latest effort to the public, titled Gospel of Despair. Despite this fact, the stream for the album has already come out officially on numerous affiliated sites. Is the product worth a listen? Let's find out.
Album Breakdown: Gospel of Despair, the newest sophomore full-length offering by Monolith Cult, represents itself as an uncanny throwback to the traditional roots and style of doom metal. With its mesmerizing guitar riffs, dark and gloomy ambiance, and energetic vocals coupled with the themes of despair, this follow-up to the band's debut album titled Run from the Light has all the workings of a Sabbath-style project. Perhaps the most intruiging and possibly integral part of Monolith Cult's latest release happens to be the themes surrounding the music. The lyrics revolving around Gospel of Despair relate mainly to those of destruction and ailment of the human mind, psychological abuse, mental torture and everything in between. The album clocks in at a little over forty minutes in length...and the seven drawn-out musical compositions (tracks) that comprise this effort are lengthy, yet fluid in structure.
The Pros: Monolith Cult's second release does many things right. The album succeeds in capturing the essence and feel of the traditional doom metal formula. The best parts of this modern offering arguably happen to be the clever riff placements, along with the somber atmosphere, which culminates with an energetic vocal style coupled with the emotional themes and lyricism that hit close to home. The combination of all those aforementioned features, along with the real-life struggles presented throughout, makes Gospel of Despair a solid experience worth having. Operatically balladic vocals are demonstrated all around, and the instrumentalism composed of heavy, yet reserved guitar riffs, clear drumming patterns, and crisp, faultless production quality make the music surrounding the relatable themes an adequate ensemble. The compositions transition well into each other and the overall tone is extremely catchy.
The Cons: While Gospel of Despair ends up as a phenomenally competent doom metal release in its own right, there are still a couple of minor aspects that make the effort slightly less than ideal or flawless as a whole. For one thing, while most of the instrumentals are very audible, the bass could have been presented a bit more "loud and clear" in some parts. It is a bit too overshadowed, even in metal standards. Secondly, the album drags on and recycles a few key parts here and there. Generally, the similar sound may be redundant for some audiences. Finally, there could've been a little bit more vocal variety...although this is more of a personal qualm than actual critical criticism.
The Verdict: Overall, Monolith Cult's latest offering titled Gospel of Despair comes out as a somewhat lengthy, but certainly justifiable release. The album's musical elements may be droning for some, but the effectively dark atmosphere, catchy vocals, relatable themes and brilliantly heavy instruments can certainly become a favourite for many fans of the doom genre. The album sports some instrumental interludes that present a little break from the rest of the sound — however, the wall of sound brought on by all of the other elements of the music will keep listeners drawn to Gospel of Despair's charm. The album has energy, clarity, emotion, and everything in between, which makes it an audible must-listen experience for doom metal enthusiasts.
Fave Tracks: 'Disconnection Syndrome', 'Sympathy For The Living'
**Monolith Cult's newest full-length album Gospel of Despair is up for pre-order now at:**
Review by: Dave Raffy
-Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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