Review Summary: Hallowed Echoes From The Void
Dead Men Tell No Tales is the mostly aptly named release thus far from the French/American cheerless Monarch. Sailing through over an hour and a half worth of slanderous doom and monolithic drone, their double disc compilation CD, comprising of 'Die Tonight' and 'Speak Of The Sea' albums, unleashes their music with a clarified sound. This precision is what makes Monarch one of the most intoxicating bands in the underground.
An ominous rumble of feedback introduces 'We Are The Music Makers' leading to a cacophony of crashing cymbals and groaning bass that begin the song. Out of this void comes a draining heartbeat of low and down-tuned yet methodical chords. Each note strikes uncoordinatedly yet the consistent thrum and tempo remains cohesive throughout the remaining 25 minutes of song. Just as you start to feel dreary some echoing howls explode from the maelstrom. Emilie Bresson’s petite physique juxtaposes her asphyxiating screams. They encapsulate the dark tone behind her and become clear to understand, given the harshness of her vocals. Total immersion is necessary to understand the depth the rhythmic textures between vocals and instruments that evoke the consistent swill of the ocean. Agitated chords and lonely drum fills cover the silence but thrums turn into twangs, cymbal crashes are more evident and even some sombre guitar slides signal the climax of the song before a large amount of feedback sinks into the distance to an end. 'Speak Of The Devil, Speak Of The Sea' follows a similar structure of nauseous notes and irregular drum beats. But there’s always a twist. Distant licentious chants reverberate around the steady fuzz of music. At this point the singing sounds more like a long drawn sigh. Bresson’s vocals have a strange power that dictates the apparent speed of the song. The ruthless shrieks inhibit added fills and the slow cries rally extended feedback like a steady roll of oceanic thunder.
'Winter Bride' starts with a chilling chord sounding as if the guitar is actually breathing. The abrupt smashing drums and callous snarls give it depth and alternate to relinquish the furious drone. Bresson’s focused and anguished screams vent unfathomable amounts of grotesque rage from the tale of the bride being left at the altar. Anger is intensified further through intermittent fills and the background shroud of gloom creates a sense of morbid imagery. The death of the song seems to live on through the guttural pulse prior to its ending. An ambient 'Swan Song' passes like a gale of wind. But the gale becomes a whirlwind of wrath and in the blink of an eye the looming whispers become terrifying siren screeches, coupled with the colliding chords and drumbeats. 'Swan Song' establishes itself as the ‘fastest’ track of the record before a long drone of feedback brings us back to normality.
Forget the funeral, the corpse is already rotted. As the spoken word title track quotes: “How much longer, he asked himself sitting impatiently.” Monarch have created a hypnotizing record of new found confidence and belonging that will not have them soar out of the depths but will bring you sinking down to a watery grave with them.