MONARCH! – The Heavy Blog is Heavy Interview

Writing a standout doom metal album is a difficult task nowadays. This isn’t due to an overall lack of quality within the genre’s modern progenitors, but because of the antithesis; more and more excellent doom metal albums seem to enter the running for our year ends lists with each passing year. MONARCH! (Monarch from here on out) has never struggled with this  endeavor over the course of their 15-year career, particularly when it comes to their recent output with the eminent Profound Lore Records. Yet, while Sabbracadaver was certainly a doom highlight in 2014, Never Forever sees the band returning this year with their most colossal and grandiose album to date, presenting a masterful synthesis of drone metal with doom’s more macabre characteristics. We sat down with the band to discuss the process of writing their latest epic, as well as a handful of other topics related to their past, present and future within the shifting landscape of modern doom. 

MONARCH! – Never Forever

Managing an album’s length is more than just a numbers game. As important as the song count and run time of a track list may be, an album’s experiential length is more closely linked to the content contained within each track. More specifically, this is defined not by the quality of an album’s ideas, but the quantity of those ideas, as well as their organization. As an example, consider your standard 20-ish minute, 20+ track grindcore album—though it may be shorter than most people’s morning commute, a band with the the most simple genre formula is introducing the listener to roughly two dozen song ideas, and if these ideas are executed poorly, the album is going to drag and lose its appeal despite presenting bite size compositions. This isn’t relevant to Never Forever because it suffers from an ineffective length; to the contrary, MONARCH! (Monarch, from here on out), have crafted an album with perfect pacing and structure that enhances the impact of the record. But the band operate in a genre rife with overindulgence, as evident by the sheer number of doom and drone metal albums comprised of a handful of tracks that each rival the entirety of a grindcore album while presenting barely enough ideas to rise above being musical melatonin.

Ehnahre – The Marrow

Literature has been one of the foremost sources of inspiration for metal lyricism and composition alike, regardless of subgenre. The list of examples is significant—Ernest Hemingway and Cobalt, Georges Bataille and Deathspell Omega, H. P. Lovecraft and seemingly everyone, and so on. Drawing inspiration from a novel is a challenging but relatively structured undertaking; a plot can be interpreted into numerous sonic and lyrical directions but will always follow the same trajectory of its narrative. Poetry contrasts this process by its very nature, as its natural code of symbolic meaning and suggestive prose necessitates musical decoding drawn from a strictly thematic place. Even poems with a decipherable narrative are often told in a verbose, indirect manner that challenges metal lyricists and composers to write with a liberated hand, looking beyond the words on the page to a deeper understanding of the poem’s true meaning and mood. Agalloch’s interpretation of W. B. Yeats is a stellar example of this process being executed beautifully, as is the latest offering from Ehnahre, a Boston-based avant-garde metal collective who count Kay Dot alumni among their ranks. Their incredible four-part song cycle on The Marrow captures the essence of Theodore Roethke’s eponymous poem* through consuming landscapes of avant-garde death-doom that are as ridden with despair as the poet’s initial musing on whether or not life is worthwhile.

Boris – Dear

There is no other band in the world like Boris. That’s not a judgement of quality or a statement of complete reverence towards this Japanese power trio, just a simple fact: there is absolutely no other band in this world with the wherewithal to do what Boris has done over the…

Release Day Roundup – 7/14/17

Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the day’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!

Harvestman – Music for Megaliths

One of the main missions of music is to influence how we think and feel. The scientific possibilities for music to create altered states in humans transcending the aural into the psychological and beyond into physical manifestations have been studied at length. That the Journal of Music Therapy exists, among…

Visit the Dusty Field Where Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree piqued my interest from the moment I came across their Bandcamp page. Much of what first drew me to Earth’s masterpiece Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull is present on BMHVT’s debut Medicine: an alluring cover, unique title and promises of an expansive, mesmerizing take on doom metal. It’s this last point that sweetened the deal like hemp-infused honey candy, and if you’re at all a fan of all things sludge and doom, you’d be wise to succumb to what this psychedelic dose of Medicine has to offer.

Best Of – Stoner Metal

Well, here we are – The Weed Day. While we’ve already done a For Fans Of post for Sleep, today we’re finally going to sit down, rip a “few” bong hits and share what we believe to be the best albums stoner metal has to offer. We’re rolling up to all the genre’s classics today, of course, starting with the auditory sweet leaf that first lit it up. But we’ve also aimed to smoke our way through the genre’s hazy history with landmark albums from the past several decades, including modern classics in the making that are equally worthy of being your soundtrack for the day. So without further ado—because we know how short your attention span is today—grab your bowl, bong and/or blunt and celebrate the best music for your lazy, smoke-filled afternoon.

Twinesuns – The Empire Never Ended

Nearly every drone metal album is bound to receive the inevitable comparison to Sunn O))), and unsurprisingly so. Drone is a difficult genre to master, what with it’s focus on mood and experience instead of typical songwriting tropes. Yet, while perusing reviews of Crystal Shipsss’ I Will See No Moon No Sky a couple years ago before writing my own, I found a blog with an interesting take on the album genre. While not verbatim, their general assertion was as follows: Crystal Shipsss’ brand of drone metal may recall Sunn O))), but in the end, no band can claim ownership of “the drone.” But let’s fast forward a bit – what exactly does any of this have to do with Twinesuns’ excellent new album, The Empire Never Ended? Well, after but a few minutes into the album, it’ll become clear that 1.) the bands sounds like Sunn O))) & 2.) this by no means discounts the sheer intensity and invention that they bring to the genre.