Thursday, August 14, 2014

Monarch: Sabbracadaver (2014)


Profound Lore is unassailable as the premier metal label. They release some of the best death metal, Lovecraftian and with an old-school ethos if not always old-school in style--Disma, Auroch, and Portal, to name a few. They release some of the most interesting black or blackened metal, not the least of which are Cobalt and Agalloch. They release some of the best truly experimental music as well--Menace Ruine immediately comes to mind. And perhaps best of all, they are untouchable in the realm of doom, with Evoken, SubRosa, Pallbearer, Witch Mountain, and Loss all calling the label home.

But then again, they do release the occasional stinker. Say hello to Monarch's Sabbracadaver.

Regular readers are well aware that I am always making an effort to appreciate the more ambient, droning side of doom and black metal, with the occasional rewarding listen coming out of those efforts. But despite the numerous times I've listened to this record, I still find nothing to enjoy.

The ambient parts are whatever, as ambient parts usually are, but it seems to me the doom stuff should draw you in. There are times in album closer "Mortes" that I feel they are just a little bit more . . . something . . . away from that. Once again, I'm going to blame the drums. They're just not powerful enough, not loud enough relative to the rest of the instruments, and there's just something about them that feels like they're just some small bit behind the pace instead of out front. It may or may not be perfect timekeeping, but there's no lurch here, no stumble, and just a whole lot of slog.

The drums aren't the only thing to blame, though. The vocals are utterly useless. "Eurogirl" makes an effort to sound strained and desperate, but she's just grating, and with plenty of her vocals to go around that's a very bad thing. When she does some high, melodic and atmospheric singing, that's just fine, but the front-and-center screaming is terrible.

The riffs, too, are completely uninspired, particularly on opener "Pentagrammes."

It's not like they did every single thing wrong. It is, mercifully, dynamic, in the sense that I don't think they hammer away for too long on any one thing. But it's like watching a show on HGTV: The camera goes all over the place, showing one mind-numbingly boring thing after another. The tone of the guitar and bass are fine, and heavy enough on the recording. But in service of what?

A rare (but not unprecedented) miss on the part of the label.

The Verdict: 1 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. I'd agree about Profound Lore's status. Bigger labels like Nuclear Blast might have a larger stable of good bands, but they have a ton of crap too. Profound Lore has a generally much higher bar.

    The one area I'd distinctly disagree, though, is in black metal. I've already slammed Agalloch before, so I won't go into that again. As for Cobalt, I don't really care about them one way or the other. In general, there's nothing in the Profound Lore black metal lineup that excites me.

    Still, great label.