Black Monolith
Passenger


4.0
excellent

Review

by zaruyache USER (7 Reviews)
April 18th, 2014 | 97 replies


Release Date: 04/22/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's as if Deafheaven's former touring guitarist woke up one day and thought to himself, "I wonder what it'd sound like if those guys played punk?"

Black Monolith made their debut on the scene in 2011 with a short 3-track demo. Effectively combining gritty black metal and hardcore punk sounds, the short demo presented a raw, noisy, and fun project with a lot of obvious potential. Fast forward three years, and we see Black Monolith continue to evolve this blackened punk style on their debut LP, Passenger.

Like the demo, Passenger also features a raw d-beat-infused black metal sound, but this time around places significantly more influence on the black metal side of the band, featuring many blast-beat-and-tremolo-riff sections, in addition to the group’s original d-beats-and-punky-riffs style. This increased focus on black metal allows the band to greatly expand their sound over the course of the record’s 40-minute runtime, while still allowing plenty of room for the group to remain true to their more hardcore-inspired beginnings.

In terms of expanding their sound, the record also sees the band not only experiment with a more straightforward brand of black metal, but also sees them emulate the currently popular post-black metal sound as well. Given that guitarist and band founder Gary Bettencourt previously served as a touring guitarist for popular post-black metal band Deafheaven, this new shift in style doesn’t seem like such a surprise. Now instead of simply expanding as a raw black/hardcore act, the group make heavy use of ambient/melodic guitar lines, giving the music a very “post-black metal” feel and adding significant atmosphere and texture throughout the whole of the album. While one might assume this new (obviously Deafheaven-inspired) shift in songwriting might water down the band’s trademark gritty black metal/hardcore sound, the inclusion of additional guitar lines actually works to enhance the band’s sound, adding points of melodic contrast to the otherwise heavy, aggressive music.

After a short noisy introductory track, the album wastes no time with opener Void, featuring immediate blast beats and melodic-yet-heavy tremolo riffing before diving into more of a d-beat stomp in its latter half. The rest of the album seems to follow along a similar sort of duality--whether beginning with blasts or d-beats, each style eventually succumbs to the allure of the other, helping to make sure that neither wears out its welcome at any given time, as well as keeping the music dynamic and fresh throughout.

The two shortest tracks, Dead Hand and Victims & Hangmen, both open with strong, aggressive punk sections before flowing into more melodic territories. Oddly enough, each of these tracks are followed by the longer, rather opposite pieces, Adhere and Gold Watch, respectively. The former draws the most similarity to the previously mentioned Deafheaven, opening with a single lonely tremolo riff before exploding in a barrage of blasting drums and melodic riffs, later combining them with more up-beat punk drumming. The latter track hearkens back to the album’s opener, featuring a no-frills raw black metal approach before finding its way into a melodic, and then droning outro.

Album closer Eris shows the most experimentation on the album, featuring minutes of droning, reverb-filled guitars until eventually switching to a rather uplifting post-rock section as its final outro before fading off into silence. As strange as it might sound for an album like this to end on such a positive note, the stomping, droning build-up provides the perfect contrast for such out-of-place, almost Hammock-esque positivity.

Passenger is an exceptional debut record from a young project with only one prior release to its name. Throughout its six main tracks, the band flawlessly combines dirty hardcore, black metal, and post-rock. While some of the pieces of the band’s new sound may be clearly borrowed, their execution and arrangement allow Black Monolith to truly stand out as one of the more interesting and inventive of the post-black metal bands of today.



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user ratings (72)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
zaruyache
April 18th 2014


7410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Huh, this ended up being longer than I expected. First review be gentle plz :-)

Wrote this mostly out of fanboyish glee. I've been listening to this pretty heavily since it came out
and I've wanted a better place to drool over it more.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Diamondize
April 18th 2014


1367 Comments


This sounds really fucking good. Is there a stream up?

zaruyache
April 18th 2014


7410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

http://www.blackmonolith.bandcamp.com/

Download it for $1

Wizard
April 18th 2014


19641 Comments


zaruyache, you're one of the most underrated users on this site dude. Just check out a tune from this and it killed. Great review too buddy, please do more!

Edit: Gonna give them $5 because $1 is just being cheap ; ).

Digging: Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
April 18th 2014


20155 Comments


album art rules

nice first review man!

just one small thing.. "it was a fun, albeit short, appetizer of what the band was capable" (I would add the word "of" after capable. Also not sure if there should be a comma after short) other than that I didn't really notice any issues. Really great first write-up



Digging: Angels and Airwaves - The Dream Walker

zaruyache
April 18th 2014


7410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You don't end sentences in prepositions, silly! :3 Thanks!

Nikkolae
April 18th 2014


4870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet jesus this is incredible Zaru, great review btw man

Digging: Modern Witch - Unknown Domain

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
April 18th 2014


20155 Comments


@zaruyache, you can in some cases, i think it would read better if you 'capable of', but feel free to just ignore me or get a second opinion lol

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
April 18th 2014


20155 Comments


http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/ending-sentences-with-prepositions

edit: you could just say capable of doing if you dont' want to end with a preposition. anyways, i've given my 2 cents haha

zaruyache
April 18th 2014


7410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks! I really dislike English sometimes because of all its ambiguities. I think I like it best
the way it is. Makes me look smarterer 8|

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
April 18th 2014


20155 Comments


haha fair enough. on another note, this album is pretty neat, jamming it again right now m/

CaptainDooRight
April 18th 2014


30334 Comments


gotta check sup nig

Brabiz
April 18th 2014


281 Comments


This album doe

LordePots
April 18th 2014


9075 Comments


bet id like this

Digging: Elysian Fields - For House Cats And Sea Fans

AdolfChrist
April 19th 2014


1822 Comments


idk about this. i dont feel like this band melds hardcore and black metal very effectively. ill give it a couple more chances though, i really liked Void.

codedwire
April 22nd 2014


1 Comments


Black Monolith is a one man show, so there are not multiple band members. Not too bad for one guy, huh? ;-)

NoSons
April 22nd 2014


91 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is fucking awesome.

Digging: A Lot Like Birds - No Place

CaptainDooRight
April 22nd 2014


30334 Comments


s'why I luv Zar

zaruyache
April 23rd 2014


7410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Black Monolith is a one man show, so there are not multiple band members. Not too bad for one guy,
huh? ;-)


Band's not on Metallum for some reason and no album reviews I read said anything about other members
or lack thereof, so I think I tried to be ambiguous about that. It is a band, or at least a
project, so I tried to talk about it as an entity rather than a single person. Especially since I
don't know if Bettencourt did all the instruments himself.
Props to him, though. I think he did very well in taking some bits of inspiration from Deafheaven and
using them to expand his own sound without really turning his back on his roots.

AdolfChrist
April 24th 2014


1822 Comments


@codedwire you wouldnt happen to be gary bettencourt, would you?



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