Monasterium – Cold Are the Graves (Nine Records)

Wednesday, 15th June 2022
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Belief in a common goal allows artists to achieve a unifying template which can convince listeners to attach easier to their output. In the case of Monasterium, this Polish quartet worship at the altar of epic doom metal for this third album Cold Are the Graves. Together since 2014, their self-titled debut came out on No Remorse in 2016, before shifting to Polish label Nine Records for the follow-up, 2019’s Church of Bones. Those who revel in classic doom riffs and semi-operatic, melodic vocals should delight in the 80’s-oriented textures full of epic passages, steady yet slower tempos, and this magnificent emotional presence that drips in vintage elements of Candlemass and Manilla Road.

The quintessential components to deliver convincing epic doom metal are there right away. One exposure to the rich, somber voice of Michal Strzelecki and most will be hooked – his measured wordsmith nature as well as occasional earth-shattering, high-pitched screams sure to shatter glass to exhort sinister approval. Larger power chords possess that perfect mix of classic, traditional metal with power and evil intentions courtesy of guitarist Tomasz Gurgul, tasteful as they are titanic – his Iommi-esque lead break for “The Great Plague” outstanding. Add in the proper driving bass parts and careful main groove and shifting transition propulsion from the rhythm section of bassist Filip Malinowski and drummer Maciej Berniak to make the circle tight and complete track by track. Midway through “Remembered” provides a quiet reprieve, an acoustic-driven affair where Michal again shines with magnificent vocal control a la Messiah Marcolin. Where other bands may extend their welcome a bit too long, Monasterium keep their arrangements in more compact horizons – often preferring to get the job done in five to six-minute timeframes. The title track concludes the proceedings at almost eight-minutes, developing from a 70’s-based acoustic start, transforming into sweeping electric riffs that steer like traversing tumultuous waters before bluesy-based guitar strains fade into oblivion.

Cold Are the Graves will never be one of those albums that sets charts ablaze or gains massive success – and Monasterium are probably well aware of the niche, cult-oriented following that gravitates towards this style. Strength comes in numbers, small or large – and as such, if you demand more artists in epic doom metal, here is a welcome addition to your playlists and record collections.

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