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Monolithe - Kosmodrom review




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Reviewer:
7.8

24 users:
7.38
Band: Monolithe
Album: Kosmodrom
Release date: November 2022


01. Sputnik-1
02. Voskhod
03. Kudryavka
04. Soyuz
05. Kosmonavt

[Limited edition bonus CD]
01. Kold [The Cure cover]
02. Orion's Misery [Metallica cover]
03. Invasion A.D. [Carpenter Brut cover]
04. Brave / Murder / Day [Katatonia cover]
05. The Killing Moon [Echo & the Bunnymen cover]
06. Spatial Cases [Massive Attack cover]


It’s unfortunate that Monolithe have become lodged in my head as ‘the band that does weird stuff with their song lengths’. Admittedly, the extent to which they have placed patterns in their track lengths on each album does mean that they have no one else but themselves to blame for that, but nevertheless, the consistent quality of their music across records, including this one, does make anything that draws attention away from said music an unnecessary distraction.

Once upon a time, Monolithe were a band that released album-spanning epic funeral doom songs (some interesting droning tangents notwithstanding), with each of their first four records comprised of a single song that smashed the 50-minute barrier. The funeral doom tag is one that Monolithe continue to carry with them, but that’s not really representative of their journey in the latter half of the 2010s, as the songs got increasingly shorter and the music more approachable. By this point, the melancholic yet ominous doom they’ve been recently espousing is closer to something akin to the earlier Swallow The Sun records. Full-length album number 9, Kosmodrom, broadly continues in this vein, but there are flashes to their former endeavors that can be encountered here.

The two previous records, Nebula Septem and Okta Khora, saw their places within the Monolithe discography represented both nominally (Septem, Okta) and in the aforementioned song lengths (Nebula Septem contained seven 7-minute songs, Okta Khora contained 8 songs, with each song lasting for either 4 or 8 minutes and 4 or 8 seconds). Perhaps the 3-year break between Okta Khora and Kosmodrom, the longest interval between releases for a decade, has convinced Monolithe to take a different approach for their ninth record, as there’s no central place for the number 9 this time around (the track lengths are still eye-drawing though, with a tracklist running for 10:00 - 10:30 - 10:30 - 10:00 - 26:00).

Conceptually, this album takes inspiration from the space race, particularly from a Soviet perspective (if “Sputnik-1” wasn’t a clear enough hint of this, then the title of track 3, “Ludryavka”, was an earlier name for the dog Laika, who the Soviets turned into the first animal to orbit the earth). It’s a bold political climate into which to release an album that looks at things from a Russian perspective, but Monolithe state that the Soviet space program is used as a backdrop with which to explore the idea of pioneering and the costs that come with the pursuit to be the first to accomplish a feat.

Musically, the album as a whole represents a continuation of the simultaneously melancholic yet subtly intense doom that produced good results on the band’s last few records. In some ways, there are hints at further lightening of the music in comparison to previous outings; “Sputnik-1” features clean-sung female vocals (performed by London Lawhon) in a fairly central role amidst the moody guitar leads and chunky doom instrumental base, and the overt melodicism of both the vocals and guitars brings poignancy to pivotal moments of the song. “Voskhod” is another song that finds itself fluctuating between sad melancholic melody and more sinister tones, with the former arguably winning out, while “Kudryavka” arguably goes a step further in embracing cleaner tones; this track features multiple guitar solos, the last of which (performed by album producer and Atoma/Enshine/Slumber figurehead Jari Lindholm) has a real Pink Floydiness to it.

At the same time, there is still plenty of darkness to be encountered here, and the closing "Kosmonavt", clocking in at a whopping 26 minutes, does flirt with rendering that darkness in ways that lean back towards their earlier material. The trudging crawl of the first third of this song utilizes the tempo, bleak growls, and menacing guitars/keyboards that made funeral doom Monolithe radiate such an edge-of-your-seat sinister darkness. After several minutes, the track shifts focus to quieter, more contemplative territory, but there are further subsequent dabblings with this ominous doom before its closing minutes, which are rounded off by a metal rendition of the Russian folk song “Katyusha”.

Those that have followed the Monolithe journey up to this point should be amply satisfied by Kosmodrom; picking up where the group left off pre-pandemic while also featuring glimpses back to their past, the record also incorporates a few new ideas for the group that settle in comfortably alongside the pre-existing Monolithe building blocks.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8





Written on 04.12.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 9   Visited by: 116 users
04.12.2022 - 00:16
X-Ray Rod
Skandino
Really looking forward to my copy to arrive! I ordered the limited 2CD edition which is filled with very intriguing covers of The Cure, Metallica, Katatonia, Massive Attack among others!
Seems like it'll be a mellow album from what I can gather from your review and the female vocals seem like a most intriguing new element. Same with the Pink Floyd namedrop (masive fan here). Perhaps an Eches touch? Seems like a Pink Floyd album the band would love.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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04.12.2022 - 00:19
Rating: 8
musclassia

Written by X-Ray Rod on 04.12.2022 at 00:16

Seems like it'll be a mellow album from what I can gather from your review and the female vocals seem like a most intriguing new element. Same with the Pink Floyd namedrop (masive fan here). Perhaps an Eches touch? Seems like a Pink Floyd album the band would love.


I hope I didn't overplay those aspects and end up disappointing you when the album arrives! The female vocals are confined to one track, and the solo that makes me think of Floyd is at the end of one song, but I don't remember encountering either on previous albums from them, and from my experience with the record those moments do stand out quite strongly; I'm not the world's biggest Pink Floyd connoisseur, but it's probably Shine On You Crazy Diamond that I was making the link to with that solo, at least in terms of guitar tone
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04.12.2022 - 00:23
X-Ray Rod
Skandino
Written by musclassia on 04.12.2022 at 00:19

I hope I didn't overplay those aspects and end up disappointing you when the album arrives! The female vocals are confined to one track, and the solo that makes me think of Floyd is at the end of one song, but I don't remember encountering either on previous albums from them, and from my experience with the record those moments do stand out quite strongly; I'm not the world's biggest Pink Floyd connoisseur, but it's probably Shine On You Crazy Diamond that I was making the link to with that solo, at least in terms of guitar tone


Don't worry. I'm sure I'll enjoy it a bunch. They played Soyuz when I saw them at Dutch Doom Days and I recall really liking it. I think they can get a pass from lack of originality after so many albums. They do have their own style after all. I'm mostly excited because this is the first album I will properly check out since they stopped doing the one-song-album thingy. I still need to check out the other four! xD Added the tracklist from the second album. As you can imagine, I'm most intrigued! specially for the The Cure, Katatonia and Metallica covers.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
Loading...
04.12.2022 - 00:42
Rating: 8
musclassia

Written by X-Ray Rod on 04.12.2022 at 00:23

Added the tracklist from the second album. As you can imagine, I'm most intrigued! specially for the The Cure, Katatonia and Metallica covers.


I've not listened to the covers, but 'Orion's Misery' is an intriguing title! Orion was my favourite Metallica song in high school, I'm curious to see what Monolithe make of it, particularly if it's a fusion with My Friend Of Misery (as I'm guessing from the title)
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04.12.2022 - 09:44
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Good reviev, lenght of the songs often piss me off, and funer doom sound has not been taken to this spaceship. Otherwise good album.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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04.12.2022 - 11:29
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
I will probably get round to this release sometime soon, assuming I won't be put off by the length barrier.
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04.12.2022 - 12:54
nikarg
Mod
This is one of these albums that, for me, prove that length is never an obstacle, if the music is good enough and I also very much appreciate its concept. I have listened to the entire thing 3 times already, and I cannot get enough of "Kosmonavt". I do think it's the mellowest album in their discography, but I find its progressive doom element very engaging. One of the nicest surprises for me this year; I have always liked Monolithe, and this may end up being my favourite of theirs.

Excellent review, of course.
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04.12.2022 - 15:19
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 04.12.2022 at 12:54

This is one of these albums that, for me, prove that length is never an obstacle, if the music is good enough and I also very much appreciate its concept. I have listened to the entire thing 3 times already, and I cannot get enough of "Kosmonavt". I do think it's the mellowest album in their discography, but I find its progressive doom element very engaging. One of the nicest surprises for me this year; I have always liked Monolithe, and this may end up being my favourite of theirs.

Excellent review, of course.

This is album listen in cold winter night at home. I tried at work, but it did not worked. Tried days later in silence lying on my floor and atari g to night sky
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
06.12.2022 - 06:15
Rating: 8
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
I love the surprise cover of "Katyusha" at the end of "Kosmonavt." I could use more of that.

I have had the same impression of Monolithe: I always enjoy them, but what I remember is the track lengths and not much else. This did strike me as a very different-sounding album from them and I hope I remember them more clearly from now on, because this was a consistently interesting album and I was really surprised by how quickly it went by, for how long it is.
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"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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