Saturday, August 1, 2015

…a triumphant return: BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH – ‘Architects of the Void’

The degree to which tragedy and the will to rebuild cannot be underestimated when listening to Behold! The Monolith’s stellar third full-length release, ‘Architects of the Void.’ The three year gap between albums marks a period of mourning, adjustment, and rebuilding on the parts of guitarist Matt Price and drummer Chase Manhattan. Welcomed into the fold are Sasquatch bassist Jason “Cas” Casanova and vocal acrobat Jordan Nalley, thus rounding out Behold! The Monolith’s ranks in the absence of the band’s fallen comrade and brother, Kevin McDade. It’s no secret that the band’s second album, ‘Defender, Redeemist,’ (review HERE) is a favorite here at Vertical Chamber Apparatus, so it is understandable that ‘Architects of the Void’ would not only have high expectations to live up to, but it would also fall under close scrutiny. Does ‘Architects of the Void’ live up to the legacy established by the band’s first two releases? That question can be answered with a resounding YES.

While ‘Architects of the Void’ is indeed stunning, certain expectations were dashed—understandably so—considering the circumstances and changes to personnel. Many of the highlights of ‘Defender. Redeemist’ and, to a lesser extent, the band’s self-titled, were the charismatic vocals of McDade and the atmospheric nuances that were woven throughout the albums. ‘Architects of the Void’ proves to be a different beast altogether by being fueled by an unparalleled darkness, a darkness that is occasionally conveyed through speed, but ultimately through sheer aggression. The blackened, frenetic aural assault of “The Mithriditist” backed by the chugging riffs of “Lord of Bones” encapsulates the collective mindset of the band and equally represents the descent into darker territories. While the atmospheric touches are not completely absent, as the haunting three minute interlude “Black Days Of…” proves with its unsettling swirl of chaos and inhuman spoken-word vocals, they have been incrementally inhibited in favor of a more forceful approach.

One area where Behold! The Monolith have excelled, ever since their inception, is producing progressive-minded tunes that are labyrinthine in nature and ‘Architects of the Void,’ as a whole, follows suit. The closing title-track best exemplifies this dimension of the band. The fourteen minute closing track is a sprawling masterpiece that not only stands out as an album highlight, but it also stands as some of the strongest, most engaging material that the band has written to-date. Near the five minute mark the track devolves into a crawling mindfuck of noise and sound bites akin to Steel Pole Bath Tub’s acid trip gone awry, “The River.” When the track regains steam and picks up the pace the end result is a glorious blast of unrestrained emotion and unforgettable instrumentation—one of the finest sonic moments to be released this year.

Perhaps the biggest potential wildcard of Behold! The Monolith mark II undoubtedly would revolve around the vocals of Jordan Nalley. While the gruff, charismatic vocals of Kevin McDade are sorely missed there is no denying that Nalley has an incredible range backed with impressive power. The songs of “Architects of the Void” work well with his style and his performance on the title track elevate that song to soaring heights that would otherwise be unattainable. Nalley is a welcome addition to the band and his contributions are complementary to say the least.

Behold! The Monolith’s triumphant return, ‘Architects of the Void,’ understandably marks a slight change in sound and execution. Their third full-length, like its predecessors, is a sprawling metal masterpiece marked by memorable riffs, scorching leads, and intricate song structures. The band, in the face of tragedy, have churned out their darkest album to date that incrementally exchanges the atmospherics that were in abundance on their first two releases for anger and even more aggression. ‘Architects of the Void’ is not necessarily better or worse than previous efforts…just slightly different, yet still it kicks ass. 'Architects of the Void' is set to be released on September 29th. Highly recommended…



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