Severed Monolith



by the last train to lethe USER (40 Reviews)
March 3rd, 2017 | 29 replies

Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Interplanar hellfire

Raul Gonzalez is a master of his craft. The Dan Seagrave of the modern age. His hand-painted images have defined the aesthetic of innumerable death metal bands to create a fantastical purpose and clarity to the music. There’s something so essential to his style that just gels, and is an integral part of what makes so many great albums what they are. Of course, the music itself plays a significant role, but there’s something so comforting about the consistency of artwork defining the atmosphere of each record, setting the tone and mood for each obelisk it represents. And Severed Monolith is represented first and foremost by the ripping corpse torn by lightning and floating through the vortex of an impossible cosmos, and Gorephilia’s soundtrack behind the art is equally vicious and compelling in its imagery.

The album tears through styles of blistering, discordant guitar work, rumbling and gore-ridden bass lines to reverb-laden vocals that underlie the chaos. The complex drumming on display here is almost easy to overlook when all the instrumental elements of the music come together so naturally. Thunderous and heavy blast beats are accompanied by nuanced and deeply satisfying fills and cymbal-work, and each track undergoes changes from more technical passages to doomy, rotting grooves. Opening track ‘Interplanar’ does a wonderful job of pacing itself through each riff before the final breakdown. ‘Harmageddon of Souls’ shows the band’s greatest technical strengths right off the bat with the amazingly tight production that accompanies such dense and detailed music. The entire experience is incredibly crisp, but never sacrifices a layer of murky, foggy gloom that holds sway over the entire tone of the record.

I’ve always been drawn to the types of albums that take the time to work in atmospheric interludes or intros and outros. I’ve heard a lot of people over the years say they just skip them or pass them off as filler, but to these ears they’re just as integral and to be taken at face-value as the artwork. An interlude will usually convey a tone or presence to the music that can’t as succinctly be portrayed through a fiery death metal track. Some passages of music may evoke many images, but it’s the artwork and the atmosphere set by these smaller pieces of the whole that lay down the context and grounds for these images to appear. It’s hard to imagine anything else but the relentless and unyielding power of the alien and surreal when tracks like ‘Words That Solve Problems’ and ‘Eternity’ play and the artwork is displayed in front of you. But then the untitled closing track subverts that feeling with a very human, very grounded piano piece that steals away this cosmic aberrance and ruins a bit of the lustre the music was owning just moments earlier in the previous track.

Gorephilia also fail to live up to this aesthetic consistency with their song titles. While titles like ‘Interplanar’, ‘The Ravenous Storm’ and ‘Return to Dark Space’ keep up this illusion, the influence of imagery alone is broken when titles like ‘Hellfire’ and ‘Words That Solve Problems’ distinctly remove the music from its original path, along with other titles that tug the concepts in different, varying directions. A petty squabble, surely, but the illusions of a place, a fantasy and an intoxicating and consistent overtone are what make death metal so special. The best albums in the genre are masters of defining these things within moments. From looking at that cover and reading the tracklisting, the mood is already set. Gorephilia undermines this innate connection with inconsistent titling that can make finding a mood more difficult than it needs to be.

Severed Monolith is a brilliantly paced and quite detailed album. Each song features several layers of tight, technical and varied music that only engages interest more and more over each subsequent listen. Penultimate track ‘Crushed Under the Weight of God’ displays this songwriting prowess with incredible nuance in its nine-minute runtime. But with its vast influences and erratic aesthetic tone uneasily hanging over every facet of the music, it can be hard to suspend disbelief and fully immerse yourself within its style. With perhaps an iota more care when developing the lyrical concepts, the song titles and the unity of its interludes to fit completely in line with one another and with the monstrously perfect artwork, Severed Monolith could have been a modern classic -- but it’s in those stupidly insignificant details that it loses me.

Recent reviews by this author
Ataraxy Where All Hope FadesIn Flames Battles
Calcemia The Unburning FlameToby Driver Live at Roulette, March 2017
Tchornobog TchornobogAntichrist Sinful Birth
user ratings (32)
other reviews of this album
kingdedethefifth (4)
Welcome to the void....

Comments:Add a Comment 
Astral Abortis
March 3rd 2017


Probably the most unnecessarily nitpicky review I've ever written, but this thing really is a stunningly crafted death metal record.

Listen/buy: https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/severed-monolith

Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2017


mind pos, instant buy.

March 3rd 2017


Will have to check this out. The band name had me assuming this was stupid gore-slam-grind or whatever.

Digging: Rivers of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name

March 3rd 2017


Odd ending on such a negative note when you really digged the album but hell i mostly agree with you. Also that ending track is bloody fucking good.

Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2017


I actually like the point you make with the song titles. While a good song is a good song regardless, if you're really trying to get into an album, having questionable song titles can tamper the illusion

March 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

Really solid record

Digging: Anna von Hausswolff - Dead Magic

March 3rd 2017


that cover is exceptional

Digging: Telefon Tel Aviv - Fahrenheit Fair Enough

March 3rd 2017


Will buy this based upon the cover alone.

The review helped some too ;)

March 3rd 2017


artwork rules

March 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

Just as tasty as the last one

March 3rd 2017


Good review. Only got through half of it. It's a pretty solid slab of dense death metal, but not really sure what more it has to offer than that.

Digging: Paara - Riitti

March 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"The Dan Seagrave of the modern age"

Hate to tell you this, but Dan Seagrave still does album artwork, and it still rips.

Solid review otherwise.

March 3rd 2017


and let's be honest, Paolo Girardi is the Dan Seagrave of the modern age ;)

March 3rd 2017


will check

March 3rd 2017


sweet album art. I'm interested

Digging: Blackout - Dreamworld

Astral Abortis
March 3rd 2017


@Panzer: I know that, but his art is far less defining or special now. It's less common and it is far more exclusive to shitty brocore bands now. Seagrave has fallen, his time is over.

And Girardi is amazing, but his art adorns more heavy and black metal bands. His art barely, if ever, has much sway in the death metal scene. No, Gonzalez is definitely the modern day essential death metal artist. His style evokes the same feelings and surreal, morbid style that Dan Seagrave did with his classic covers.

March 4th 2017


yeah the cover rules. will have to check, embodiment of death was pretty good

Digging: Ataraxy - Where All Hope Fades

March 4th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

I love more straightforward Death Metal with fat riffs left, right, and center like this so much. It's so simple, but I can just put it on and jam out at any time and love it.

March 4th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

this is damn good, definitely a step up from embodiment

March 4th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

I feel like Embodiment of Death had a couple tracks with better riffs than most of the ones found here, but overall, this album is slightly better. Love both of them though.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy