Wait. Are you sure I got the right album. This is black metal. I thought I was suppose to get the power metal / melodic death pack. No, I’m not complaining. Actually, this is wonderful.
While the majority of albums reviewed on this site fall in line with the epic/melodic/power/symphonic crowd, there have been exceptions. Most were the product of blackmail and high ransom, but that is not the point. I mean, how did you think Paysage D’hiver got here. Though the concept of black metal is pretty far from what is considered epic, its execution could silently and undeniably hit the point. Take the first release from Norwegian’s Blosgard and whatever charts and graphs you could possibly need and tell me I am right.
Monument is a sturdy full length after three or so demos that you probably haven’t heard of. Despite this misstep, Monument comes on the wings of mid-fi black metal similar to bands like Absu and Marduk. Whenever I use the term “mid-fi black metal” it always sounds like a criticism despite the absolute charm in hearing drums and depth in the low end. Black metal has many qualities and Bodsgard’s Monument is another decent entry in the ever growing mid range of the style. It retains edges of raw power but never forgets about the aesthetic of a well crafted record. True Norwegian Balanced Black Metal.
When I discuss the album’s versatility, I want to point to examples like the album’s title track. For the most part, Monument, the song, lingers in whispers and trailing guitar licks. This whole atmosphere only precedes an organ arrangement and gurgling chants in what sounds like a waterlogged crypt. No where in this song is there any trace of traditional song, rather the title track takes its time in stopping the album midway through to make a spectacle. If there were any doubts about this band and their ability to make mood driven black metal, please allow the hammering sounds of organ sooth you. Monument’s title track represents an important point in the album as it is perhaps the start of the album being interesting and one step beyond adequate.
While the first half of Monument, the album, is nowhere near terrible, the later half is a dream to listen to, often filled with genuine emotion, thematic costume, and effective horror used in dazzling ways. Trading in blast beats for elongated structures, the back half of Monument straddles precariously between bizarre and stunning. “Svart Blod Flyter” is filled with Gothic cantering, leaning against a doomed landscape while “Kaoskonstruksjon” is a traditional black metal track with almost 10 times the ferocity of the first half. By the end of the record one thinks how in the world they ended up here.
Monument’s success rests in not only its effective execution but its ability to surprise the hell out if its listener. The end and the beginning come from two separate worlds but they both meet somewhere in the middle. I finally get why I had to listen to this record and why it belongs on this site. Congratulations gentlemen, you moved me to tears. Well, water filled gasps at the bottom of said subterranean crypt. Same thing.
Released: September 30th, 2013
Label: The Oath
Score: 7/9 Hammers