Review Summary: Hymn To The Immortal Wind demonstrates both the good and bad aspects of Post Rock.
With a genre like Post Rock, only the brave prosper. It’s conventions are so arduous that very few groups have the chops to succeed. There is a delicate balance between achieving that sought after epic sound and overdoing it, so it’s no surprise that only a handful of bands come to mind when thinking of the greats in the genre. When earlier this year Mono released Hymn To The Immortal Wind,
many rejoiced and celebrated it, hailing it as a marvel to the genre, Best Post-Rock Album Of All Time titles were administered, and it seemed that they were slowly associating Mono with that handful. Now to some context, all of this can be warranted; the album’s scope and technical achievements are all terrific; the cold and aquatic atmosphere is captured to great effect. There is a lot of reasoning behind why this album is so well-liked. But as I mentioned earlier, there is a fine line between bold and excessive. Mono have crafted an album that is a bit of both.
To get one thing straight though; the album is epic. The group accentuates its classical instrumentation with blistering guitar crashes and complex drum patterns. Like most in the genre, the songs start off in very minimalist ways, while slowly building layers and sections into grand climaxes. The atmospheres they create are, at first listen, bold and serene, with a grandiose sense of approach in every song. This makes for good songs, but not good albums. In context to the entire package, the album is too
epic. It has little variety, and the constant barrage of intense buildups and homogeneous atmosphere really takes that sense of epicness away and replaces it with redundancy.
The album is quite long, clocking in at over an hour. This length wouldn’t be as big of an issue if there was any change within the record. Each and every song on the album follows the same pattern; soft string/guitar/piano begins the piece, with different build ups that inevitably grow into a very loud and pronounced ending. This style can
be very captivating, and there certainly are moments where this is achieved; The gentle riff on Pure As Snow(Trails Of The Winter Storm); the beautiful piano in Everlasting Light; The brooding climax of Ashes In The Snow. All of these pinpointed movements are great, but there’s not enough variety within them. This genre can get boring very fast when every song mirrors one another. Every single song follows the same routine; quiet to loud, with very homogeneous instrumental sections and emotional atmosphere, and it leaves the entire experience diminished. I would have much rather have seen them take different approaches with their songs and create some different ambiances that compliment each other. Each song on here breeds a very cold, blue ambiance, and although there are moments of beauty, they are very bogged down.
Hymn To The Immortal Wind
is tremendous and unsettling at the same time. Mono's scope is so grand, their musicianship is terrific, but they don’t step outside their comfort zone in terms of songwriting. Post Rock can produce some of the greatest music ever because it is so unrestrained, but it takes a lot of innovation to succeed, something that Mono lack on this release. Is Hymn To The Immortal Wind
full of good songs? Absolutely. But does every song use the exact same format to achieve that greatness? Yes, and that is where the album’s major flaw ultimately lies.