Monotheist return with some new members and bring an onslaught of technical, progressive death metal filled with incredible guitar work, pounding rhythms and drums, and elements of jazz and classical music that has long been a part of their sound.
Florida has produced a number of death metal bands over the years, from Obituary to Six Feet Under to Morbid Angel among others, so Monotheist coming from Orlando isn’t too far out of the ordinary. Formed in 2004, Michael “Prophet” Moore gathered a set of musicians to drive his progressive death metal vision and formed a band that released Unforsaken in 2007 (remastered/re-released in 2012), a record that looked to combine many of their influences from Extol to Death, to Suffocation and Opeth. The follow up album didn’t come out until 2013 and was an ep, Garden of Perdition, that featured shorter songs and vocals from JJ “Shiv” Polachek (ex-7 Horns 7 Eyes) with Cooper bates joining on drums. Now 5 yrs later the band is releasing their second full length, Scourge. Joining the band for this album are Jose Figueroa on bass and Tyler McDaniel (ex-Gigan) on guitar and vocals. The album was mixed and mastered by Aaron Smith at Envisage Audio and features guest appearances by Christian Alvestam (Scar Symmetry, Miseration) and Bobby Koelble (ex-Death).
Monotheist waste no time in setting the stage for this album as “The Grey King” literally explodes into action. Rapid double bass, blast beats, intricate guitar riffs, and a relentless pounding rhythm instantly identify this as some heavy death metal and the song doesn’t really ever take a break. Combinations of dark, deep growls and higher pitched screams fill any void left by the instruments, and while the song does slow a bit and the brutality ease, the rest is momentary. Production is clean and all instruments and vocals can be clearly heard in the mix, which can be a challenge with this much sound going on.
What stands out for me are the progressive elements that tie together different parts of the songs and do remind me a bit of bands like Extol and the talented instrumental work in the songs. Cooper Bates drum lines at times are incredibly fast in blast beats and/or bass and at other times are slower and more powerful and complex and the guitar work of Michael Moore and Tyler McDaniel is equally good whether in death metal riffs or blistering solos.
Standout tracks for me beside the opener “The Grey King” include the second track, “The Great Chain at the Neck of the Earth” which opens slower and ominous and then goes into full death metal attack before settling into a clean guitar, near symphonic section with raspy spoken vocals and a building intensity that brings the song back into the intensity. Later in the album the near eleven minute long “Desolate, It Mourns Before Me” also stands out to my ears with the variety of death metal riffs and technical guitar work as well as some albeit brief bass guitar coming to the forefront in the sound. Add in some near symphonic elements, a jazzy interlude, and classic death metal and one can see why the song would be as long as it is and still not feel repetitive.
While some of the progressive elements may seem a bit forced at times and not all work as well as others, they do add an air of complexity and beauty to the songs and keep things fresh and the listener drawn in. At times, beautiful, and mostly heavy, dark and brutal , Monotheist have created a death metal album that is filled with technical, progressive, symphonic, and even jazz elements that ends up being one of those albums where you hear something new and interesting with every listen.
Written by John Jackson
1. The Grey King (feat. Christian Alvestam of Solution .45, Miseration, Scar Symmetry)
2. Great Chain at the Neck of the Earth
3. Mark of the Beast, pt. 1: The Image
4. Mark of the Beast, pt. 2: Scion of Darkness
5. Infinite Wisdom
6. Desolate, It Mourns Before Me
7. Abominable Acts
JJ “Shiv” Polachek – Vocals
Michael “Prophet” Moore – guitars
Tyler McDaniel – guitar, vocals
Jose Figueroa – bass, vocals, percussion
Cooper Bates – drums, vocals
“Unforsaken” (demo, 2004)
“Unforsaken” (rerelease 2012)
“Genesis of Perdition” (ep, 2013)
‘Scion of Darkness’ (single, 2016)
Record Label: Prosthetic Records, 2018
Release Date: March 16th. 2018
Lyric video for ‘The Grey King’
Video (audio) for Mark of the Beast, pt 2