Mono
Hymn To The Immortal Wind


4.5
superb

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
March 22nd, 2009 | 901 replies | 56,080 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On Hymn To The Immortal Wind, Mono multiply the successes of You Are There by 3 and come away with the strongest record of their career.

My buddies and I like to argue about music. This in itself is not particularly special; a couple of my friends like to tell me why Protest the Hero are the best thing ever and I ask them how random song constructions and beyond-irritating vocals make a band amazing and the debate flows. Now, I can hold my own when they talk about their rock and alternative bands, but on special occasions when post rock comes up, I get to let loose. I get to point out the problems with The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place when someone points to Explosions In the Sky and says that they’re the best band running right now. Then someone else argues for A Silver Mount Zion because they were once Godspeed You! Black Emperor which apparently excuses the vocalist bleating like a sheep, but it’s a nice chat; a lighthearted but lively discussion about which band is truly the best in this relatively young genre of music, the same way classic rock was discussed in the 70s.

And now Mono has to go and fuck that all up.

It was always going to be tough for Mono to top their seminal 2006 release, You Are There. You Are There was instrumental post rock done right in almost every way; the ambience was subtle and the climaxes were beyond pulverizing, the interludes gorgeous and the melodies heartbreaking. It was a record that embraced its absurd hugeness without sounding pretentious or superfluous, as every suite and section of You Are There seemed vital to its success as a whole. It would only make sense that Mono was headed for a letdown. The law of follow-up albums indicated that their next record, Hymn to the Immortal Wind, should either find the band trying to replicate the successes of You Are There with diminishing returns or explore a whole new direction. Hymn does neither.

Instead, Mono ups the ante on everything. On Hymn To The Immortal Wind Mono multiply You Are There by 3 and inexplicably come away with the strongest record of their career. Recorded with a 28 piece orchestra and produced by Steve Albini, Hymn is an orchestral masterpiece, complete with aching string climaxes and flourishes that transcend guitar rock and approach the elite realm of modern “classical.” The record opens amidst a wave of fuzz and ostinato bells before Mono unveils a slew of gorgeous motifs punctuated by deep string instruments, and Hymn doesn’t let up once for a solid hour. The song, “Ashes in the Snow,” is arguably Mono’s best track to date (though the same could be said of about a quarter of Hymn). It’s an absolutely stunning work, working in a slow crescendo until a swirl of tremolo picking and crash cymbals totally engulf the listener to the point of complete exhaustion. It’s a near-suffocating (in the absolute best sense of the word) experience, and this is only the opener.

Similar tracks such as the aptly titled “Burial at Sea” and “Pure as Snow” work in an analogous fashion, lulling for a few minutes until an inevitable pummeling takes place, yet the predictability here isn’t an issue. It’s gorgeous every time. It would be irrational to not expect some method to this chaos, and the formula for most of Hymn to the Immortal Wind is well defined for the most part. The thing is the songs are so damn good it’s hard to care. Mono uses structural similarities to their advantage, giving the record an essential unity and flow. In the wrong hands, a record loaded with ten minute compositions could so easily get lost in its own massive raincloud, but Mono stay grounded almost throughout the entirety of Hymn. The two beautifully subdued interludes (interlude meaning less than ten minutes) of Hymn, “Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn” and “Follow the Map,” help here, as they provide breaths of air before Mono submerge with their next massive composition. “Follow The Map,” a track whose spaghetti-western guitar, glockenspiel, and piano orchestration recall “The Dead Flag Blues,” introduces a little calm until, like You Are There’s finale “Moonlight,” pained strings interrupt to bring the emotion back down for Hymn’s conclusion.

That conclusion, “Everlasting Light,” is the probably the track that comes closest to challenging “Ashes in the Snow” for top song on Hymn to the Immortal Wind. On it, Mono utilizes the orchestra to deliver a beautiful final chapter to their tour de force, as guitar doesn’t appear until about halfway through the song. The melody established runs its course and blossoms into a final uplifting apex until Mono closes with the ten of the most stunning seconds you’re likely to hear for a long time. The bombast with which Mono stamps a flourish onto Hymn is perhaps the lone time they let their pension for grandeur get the best of them, but after such a stunning record, the indulgence is more than well-deserved, it’s welcome. As the gut-wrenching effect from the powerful hour fades away, it’s hard to imagine a more satisfying entry from the genre to be released this year. This is why Mono fucked up my idealistic little debate I mentioned earlier. If Hymn to the Immortal Wind does anything, it establishes Mono’s place among post rock’s top dogs, and for this reviewer, easily gives them the title. Everyone else is just generic or something.



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user ratings (812)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
jybt (4.5)
The grandiose album title "Hymn to the Immortal Wind" is successfully translated into a soul-stirrin...

FourSquare20 (5)
Mono achieve what countless other post-rock bands can only strive for....

Derek Marchewka (3)
Hymn To The Immortal Wind demonstrates both the good and bad aspects of Post Rock....

Adam Knott EMERITUS (4.5)
Even the silence between songs is flawless....


Comments:Add a Comment 
kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 22nd 2009



4830 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is pretty sick... tied right now with you are there.

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

natey
March 22nd 2009



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wish I had a friend who even knew about post-rock. The few who have heeded my call to listen to it (basically I burned them mixes) say it's boring.

Album is great but I haven't listened to it enough to love and praise it like you.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2009



17125 Comments


While I dont think that this beats You Are There (I've only spun it a few times), it is a whole
boatload of awesome. I agree with you on Ashes In the Snow. This Message Edited On 03.22.09

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2009



15697 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I liked it more as I kept listening with the intent of formulating a review. It made me pay more attention and think "hey that's pretty awesome" pretty much once every 3 minutes

BallsToTheWall
March 22nd 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Need this. Process of acuiring this now.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2009



17914 Comments


hey man that first paragraph extraneous

MassiveAttack
March 22nd 2009



2684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I got the same problem Natey lol. All of them are like "omg wtf is this it sounds like funeral music"....sigh

fireaboveicebelow
March 22nd 2009



6837 Comments


much more of a grower than You Are There but still great

Youwithoutme
March 22nd 2009



301 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

amazing album

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 22nd 2009



4830 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you guys must have a lot of friends that live under rocks; most of my friends worship this stuff.

MassiveAttack
March 22nd 2009



2684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nah man they just love generic crap...its bad. I can only think of a few ppl that actually listen to decent stuff, but I'm not into what they listen too.

natey
March 22nd 2009



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

plenty refuse to believe that the indie stuff I listen to actually has a sizable fanbase.

Windows
March 22nd 2009



76 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sample song on this page is great. I'm going to check this out tomorrow. Good Review.

RedSky
March 23rd 2009



277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Was wondering when someone was going to get around to reviewing this. Excellent album, has that kind of pervasive atmosphere that grows on you after a number of listens.

I generally don't see anything much special about The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place either, it's good but merely good for me. But disliking PtH?

Heresy!

*gathers pitchforks and torches*

ninjuice
March 23rd 2009



6758 Comments


Disliking PTH is fine (okay not really) but calling it "random song construction" screams ignorance honestly.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2009



17125 Comments


whats with all the Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place hate...

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2009



17914 Comments


cuz that album sux

DBlitz
March 23rd 2009



1685 Comments


album is good

Mendigo
March 23rd 2009



2299 Comments


I wish I had a friend who even knew about post-rock. The few who have heeded my call to listen to it (basically I burned them mixes) say it's boring.

this. ok, there are a few people who do know the likes of Sigur Ros and some even Godspeed You!, but that's about it and even those are rather rare.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
March 23rd 2009



862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album.



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