Music is, at its core, supposed to make the listener feel something. It’s not enough to create a tune based solely around deft instrumentation, or biting lyricism, or a complex structure. From the simple punk tunes of Knocked Loose to the fretboard wizardry of Gorod, music is about conjuring up emotions. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of a band going to great lengths to create vast, textured soundscapes: a musical world into which the listener is whisked away.

Behold! The Monolith is a perfect example of this. Going from straight-up sludge on their debut record, to a more progressive and riff-oriented doomy style on their 2013 release, Defender, Redeemist, they’ve covered an array of sounds to create this imagery as they’ve changed as a unit. Now, they’re letting themselves drift even further into an exploratory mindset with their newest record, Architects of the Void.

The band find themselves in the midst of blackened doom territory here. Walls of slow, rumbling riffage surround the listener, closing them within a claustrophobic canyon of feedback and lushly textured guitars. Tremolo picked riffs and reverberating leads occasionally rear their heads to add an enormous sense of scope, the canyon suddenly opening into a vast, bleak wasteland upon which the band runs wild with nihilistic glee. The bass grumbles like hideous machinery torn from a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and the frenetic drumming further enhances the music’s feel: kick drums break the earth like the march of armies at war and cymbals are thunderous crashes from on high. Each riff is something new, but every section excels and bombards the ear with fury and power from on high. The vocals spit acid onto the soundscapes, setting fire to the wasteland and corroding away any life left.

Although Architects is certainly a masterful record when it comes to the quality of the riffing, the other half of the traditional blackened doom equation is just as important: the calm betwixt the storm that comprises the quieter interludes between the riffing. Here, the band is just as capable. Small flourishes of acoustic guitar grace the silence and feedback swirls into windy, desolate, brittle noise. And when the storm returns, it’s inevitably even more destructive than before, made stronger and harsher by its absence.

Tension is certainly the name of the game here: the song structures are built around the idea of constantly building up into unleashing a satisfying burst of energy in the form of their howling, berserk riffs. It’s the most arresting part of their formula; they make sure that every section feels like it’s building up to something greater, each part more violently climactic than the last. Each new part of their desert soundscape feels bleaker, more apocalyptic and empty than before.

Behold! The Monolith’s name is entirely appropriate, because the tunes they write are, indeed, monolithic. Not a second feels wasted in this masterpiece blackened-doom record: either building up pressure or using it to explode into frenzied riffs and howls, Architects of the Void is a record forged in patience and tempered in payoff.

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Behold! The Monolith – Architects of the Void gets…

4.5/5

-SH

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