Monolithe – Epsilon Aurigae (Debemur Morti)

Tuesday, 29th December 2015
Rating: 8/10

The utter disappointment in Monolithe not naming their fifth album Monolithe V…what are these guys thinking by breaking such an album title string? (Not serious, obviously.) Continuity, not uniformity has been one of the defining traits of this French doom crew, who since 2001, have emerged as one of the more singular entities in their chosen style. Monolithe often tip-toes the line between down-and-out funeral doom, and out-and-down plain ‘ole doom, with neither taking a predominant side. The same applies with Epsilon Aurigae, album boasting three songs and a precise running time of 45 minutes. (Naturally, each song is 15 minutes long. Mad props to primary songwriter Sylvain Bégot for his ability to get it all to fit.)

The 3-song idea is another deviation from the course for the Frenchman. Previous efforts have found the band engaged in the sometimes tedious, yet highly explorative realm of doing ONE LONG SONG for an entire album. (DR has always remained curious if the band has been able to record said albums in one go, or resorted to studio trickery.) Nevertheless, the three-way split yields positive results for the band. Opener “Synoecist” finds the band operating at a faster pace than normal – lurches become fast walks, if you will. But the guts of the song rely on the down-tuned, slow-burned riff segments, and Richard Loudin’s unearthly bellow. Additional contrast is found on “TMA-0,” which serves as one of the band’s now patented barren ploughs through abyssal terrain, bleak jaunts and all.

“Everlasting Sentry” serves as the album’s most textured cut, where Bégot and Benoît Blint’s grimy, deadened guitars create an atmosphere of their, reminiscent of the glory doom days of yore in the early 90s. Such wanderings into new territory, along with glances to the past make Epilson Aurigae a fitting album to begin a new chapter for Monolithe, who at this point, are clearly more than capable of breaking out of their suffocating one-song box.

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