Behold! The Monolith – Defender, Redeemist Review
There is no better way to be made an instant fan of an unfamiliar band than to witness them absolutely destroy an intimate venue under relentless aural barrage, and that is precisely how I was turned onto Los Angeles’ very own stoner doom trio Behold! The Monolith. This is a band that plays their fucking heart out in a concrete walled room lit by a floodlight – the kind of opener you had no experience with before but rush home eager to devour their sonic offerings after the show.
Defender, Redeemist begins with the doom drenched Guardian’s Procession, whose crushing, down-tuned chords waver and oscillate just long enough to establish an armor clad war-march of a tempo before being beaten to the ground by an explosion of second track Halv King‘s fast paced destructive goodness. Just as the song’s furious pace and hoarse vocals nearly cement it as a competent sludgey-thrash-hardcore crossover, you’re kicked in the face by oldschool Southern rock licks and chops that’ll keep you tuned in and guessing for the album’s entire runtime. While a lot of genre-blending metal bands tend to try and walk a delicate line between their specific combination of outside influences, D,R chooses instead to blur a myriad of styles together with what equates to the delicacy of slamming a fucking dumptruck into them – and I fully intend that to be a complement.
If a bong-ripping demon rose from the fiery underworld to impregnate Motörhead, their resulting hellish lovechild would undoubtedly be Behold! The Monoloth. Desolizator marches on with fleshed out and evil riffing until it’s brief noise climax, with a smooth lead-in to Redeemist‘s bowel-churningly low bass intro and subsequent acoustic guitar-punctuated doom march. We Are the Worm is one of the album’s strongpoints – ripping throwback guitars spiral in and around delayed spacey passages that absolutely shine under the master ear of producer Billy Anderson. The latter half of Redeemist‘s sense of build up to the tongue-twisting doom anthem Cast on the Black/Lamentor/Guided by the Southern Cross is absolutely incredible. Managing to swim in and out of a walloping sludge traipse that falls away mid song, Defender, Redeemist‘s climax leaves an almost soulful acoustic interlude in it’s wake that only serves to build on top of the anticipation for the wall of sonic devastation you know is about to crash triumphantly back on top of you at any second.
D,R trudges through a huge arsenal of rapid stylistic changeups that keeps the group’s sophomore headbanger enjoyable after many a playthrough. B!TM showcases their ability to keep things fresh throughout this slogging battle anthem of a second album, displaying an aptitude for turning elements of skullcrushing hardcore, wailing feedback, delicious heavy metal licks, ploddingly slow doom, and even fleeting acoustic passages into a brutal, chugging stoner sludge record that comes stumbling out of a smoke-throttled basement, warhammer in hand and ready to be driven through some dude’s face. Like an auditory journey through the old wizard-covered highschool metalhead’s notebook you know you’ve got buried somewhere in your room, this album oozes pure ass-kicking aggression.