|Whatever momentary diversions may be deployed, taken overall, Monads's debut is still an extreme and substantially crushing venture.|
|It seems a little contrary, if not paradoxical, to be considering a Doom album as a veritable overnight success story, but that is the apparent background to this re-release of Belgium's Monads demo 'Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem'. Initially made available as a limited run of 50 cassettes in September 2011, and almost immediately sold out, it has now been pressed for a 2012 digipack CD release on the Ordo MCM label.
The band have been quoted in interview* as having their choice of name inspired by Mournful Congregation's seminal 'The Monad Of Creation', which is a clue as to where their sensibilities lie – both musically (somewhere in the depths of Funeral Death/Doom) and philosophically (somewhere quite metaphysical: monads being, effectively, the elementary particles of reality). The latter, presumably, informs the choice of album title ('Intellect judges truth') – which, along with the cross and serpent cover – seems like a fairly pithy summary of gnostic belief. All very well, of course, but not necessarily altogether relevant to the listening experience.
That, to be fair, is quite a varied one. The underlying template is one of slow-paced and heavy Death/Doom characterised by a somewhat Sludge-influenced distorted edge to the guitars and a range of powerfully-growled vocals, but there are plenty of other influences lurking within each of the lengthy tracks. These range from the slow, bleak Funeral introduction to 'The Stars Are Screaming' to 'Broken Gates To Nowhere's central Post-Rock style melodic exploration, and even include some frantic, blackened riffing at the conclusion of 'Absent As In These Veins'.
To a greater or lesser extent, all of these different styles feature in all the tracks: whether they are worked in to introductory pieces or bridges, or as a full-blown passage within the composition. Make no mistake, though: whatever momentary, almost peaceful, diversions may be deployed, taken overall it is still an extreme and substantially crushing venture. Monads (in the metaphysical sense) represent a force rather than a material phenomenon: something that Monads (as a group) seem determined to prove empirically through overwhelming sonic firepower.
It is probably worth mentioning that all of the band members come with a strong pedigree from various Death and Black Metal bands, and most of them have previously worked together on stage or in the studio. Unsurprisingly, this is reflected in the proficiency and synergy displayed on 'Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem', which could quite convincingly be argued to have far more debut than demo qualities about it. Aside from the mixing of the drums, which are somewhat muffled and distant for my taste, it would be difficult to find fault with the conception, production or presentation of the album.
To resolve the original paradox, then: this isn't actually so much an instant success for a new band as the opening salvo from what might be considered a Belgian extreme supergroup, and it sets its standards accordingly. For comparison purposes: there is the obvious one of Mournful Congregation, but perhaps of all the band's cited influences the closest would be early Evoken. And, no, it isn't unreasonable to mention Monads in the same breath as those archetypal elemental forces: on the strength of this, they have more than enough potential to go on and claim a place alongside such illustrious company.
* Author's note: Interview in full, although sadly not in English, can be read HERE.
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1. The Stars Are Screaming
2. Broken Gates To Nowhere
3. Within The Circle Of Seraphs
4. The Obsolete Presence
5. Absent As In These Veins
Duration : Approx. 54 minutes
Visit the Monads bandpage.