Review Summary: The sleekest representation of how badly the Cold War could've ended you'll ever hear.
Amebix is arguably one of the most underrated bands of the 80's. As the basis for the crust punk sound, Amebix was the blueprint for what the genre would become. Their sound wavered between fast hardcore punk anthems and slow metallic dirges, but it never lost its post apocalyptic edge.
The bands discography can be described as scattered at best, but the two LP's they did manage to release are the definitive highlights. Arise! was stronger than anything else around it, boasting the trademark apocalyptic mood and the musical edge. It was a dirty album, covered in the dust of ruined buildings and the sunscorched landscape that followed the bombs.
Monolith followed suit, but did so in a much more polished and structured way. The band sounds more like a unit on this outing, focused and driving. The guitars tear through every note, the bass rattles audibly behind, and the drums pound and hammer away like pistons in an engine. The vocals are downright rabid at times, especially in the faster songs. "Time Bomb" sounds like the Baron is barely being held back. You can almost see the venom dripping from his mouth. The lyrics are far from the drivel of the hardcore bands of the day. They are well thought out and lines like "To my wretched son, I leave this gun, to slaughter all of your race" from "Last Will and Testament" and "I just buried a friendHe had come to the end, But I can't help feeling that it needn't have been, Caught in the flak, There was no turning back, So he gave up his life for some psychopath's dream" from "Coming Home" are both punchy and poignant.
The album does have some slight drawbacks that don't necessarily take away from the album as a whole, but the do interrupt the flow. The band seems to get lost during part of "Nobody's Driving," and the fadeout in "Last Will and Testament" happens way too quickly. These are minor flaws in an otherwise excellent album. The band is firing on all cylinders, and past all the grime and violence are some genuinely beautiful moments that sound almost hopeful, especially when the vocals let up and the instruments jam out, which happens often.
Monolith is a gem of an album. It's mood is dense, and the instruments go from melodic runs to atonal blasts. It's good even if you have no interest in crust punk. From start to finish, Monolith is a meaningful and worthwhile ride thats worth the price over and over again.