Review Summary: This is how it's done.
Merely two albums into their career and already Monolith have established themselves as a force in the melodic death metal scene not to be ignored. With latest release Voyager
, the band exemplify all of their greatest qualities. Throughout the album a balance of heavy and light material is maintained, joining forces with the progressive influences and limitless experimentation. In place of simply conforming to the genre-common technique of juxtaposing the aforementioned soft sections with unrestrained aggressive passages, Monolith instead opt for a coalition of the two extremes. Both components complement one another, in either a layered fashion such as on ‘Fortification’ or by flowing together in a rise-fall motion similar to the gentle swell of waves. Interspersed throughout Voyager
is the clear, melodic voice of vocalist Mike Gallant who weaves calming melodies into the metallic backbone of the album. Some of the most ethereal moments are created by the use of soothing cleans interlaced with the unrelenting instrumental component. Cementing the real enjoyment to be sourced from this album, however, are the orchestral elements and the choir; when they appear, the albums epic quality skyrockets. Opening track ‘Prisoner of War’ contains one of the best examples of the bands use of otherworldly cleans, while ‘Endurance’ provides not only a great partnership of the Yin and Yang styles, but also comprises of a sing-along chorus that proves to be stubbornly memorable.
All of this shouldn’t be taken to mean the album is any less aggressive than their ‘death metal’ label would suggest. Instrumentally, the entire album shakes with force as often as the songwriting demands attention. The drumming is punchy and oftentimes bass-heavy, giving the album a resonating quality. The rhythm section maximise their potential with the bass guitar, which remaining a dominant force throughout the album, accompanied as it is by the reverberating drums. The guitars remain a constant source of intrigue, consistently providing attention-grabbing riffis and the majority of the aggression. Closer ‘Fear and Trembling’ even features the use of an acoustic guitar to great effect. Mike Gallant achieves equilibrium with his vocal input; making full use of harsh vocals and throaty growls whenever they are required to roughen up the smooth edges of his cleans. His screams are solid and clear, conveying the lyrical subject matter with ease. From track to track the lyrical material covers a broad range of subjects without falling victim to the cliché, dull or tacky methods that are all too prevalent amongst their contemporaries within the genre.
Monolith have taken the essential melodic death metal components and coupled them with some unusual extras which have ultimately paid off. The flawless conglomeration of styles is what sets this band apart from those they share the genre with. The soaring cleans, atmospheric orchestra, haunting choirs and remorseless death metal elements have all been amalgamated in the greatest of ways and the result has been this; Voyager
. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done.