Review Summary: Seemingly a bad follow-up turns into another great progressive melodic death metal album as long as you let it grow on you. It is still a fair bit weaker than Shrouded Divine though.
When In Mourning finally released Shrouded Divine
in 2008, they were instantly launched into critical acclaim. The long-awaited debut album did not disappoint and it was not hard to see, why phrases such as "descendants of Opeth" and "best new melodeath band in years" flew around. Shrouded Divine
was, what one would call, a collection of eight wonderful, progressive melodic death metal tracks. It didn't have any boring parts, it was so well crafted, especially for a debut LP, and had those sweet acoustic passages that the infamous Opeth also use so well. All in all, in melodic death metal, 2008 was the year of In Mourning. So when news about a new album reached the ears of legions of fans, expectations rose to boiling point - no more was anyone waiting for a great album; everyone wanted at least a semi-classic one.
is a good album, but it is far from classic, very far from it. What drags this album down is its lack of initial appeal. It took me at least five, if not about seven, spins to start appreciating it for what it is. Too many people were looking forward to a superb record - a record that would blow them away and keep them in its firm grasp for a good while. But no, that is not what Monolith succeeds in. Instead, Monolith
is a good sophomore effort, mainly keeping to the path In Mourning set themselves on with Shrouded Divine
, only this time around, there's more of a metalcore influence. It's especially notable in the vocal department, because in contrast to his deep growl and beautiful cleans, Tobias Netzell now also uses a metalcore-esque shout, most notably present in the songs "For You To Know" and "A Shade Of Plague". Also, chugging sections are more present than they were on Shrouded Divine
. That, in its core, is not a bad thing, because In Mourning implement them with ease and make them sound rather refreshing in the overall context, but it yet again shows that In Mourning may be trying to step onto a more commercial path, as adding metalcore elements to a melodic death metal sound seems to be the thing in the present (European) mainstream metal scene.
Like I already briefly mentioned earlier, Monolith
desperately lacks a 'punch' effect. The only songs that have said punch are the two openers, "For You To Know" and "Debris", the latter also being the album's best song, hands down. Other songs, at least in my case, needed quite a bit of time to grow. Listening to the album through headphones definitely helps, because through a blaring stereo system, you might not catch all the nuances. In the end though, even when you've given it time to grow, and while the 'punch' factor does dilate, Monolith
is still weaker compared to Shrouded Divine
Overall sound of Monolith
is still your typical (aka excellent) In Mourning though. While the importance of acoustic passages has been degraded, and the music has a slight metalcore vibe to it at times, it's still great, sound, progressive melodic death metal. The only song that doesn't cut it even after multiple plays is the supposed-to-be-epic closer "The Final Solution (Entering The Black Lodge)". It's a decent song at best and it really drags during its twelve and a half minute run-time. It has an excruciatingly slow tempo, and the synths used in this song just sound like complete and utter crap. It's evident the band did their best to craft their most epic song yet, but the only thing the song has going for it, is an occasional pretty riff.
is in no way a bad album if you're even remotely a fan of this kind of music, but it isn't the classic so many had hoped for, and it's also a fair share weaker than it's predecessor, the glorious Shrouded Divine
. The skill is still there though, and I can most definitely see a very bright future for these guys. With that said, Monolith
is a great album, but sometimes, even great isn't enough to please everyone.