16 years of silence. 3 ½ years of songwriting. A can of mixed nuts. Quite simply, you reach in and grab a handful and are mashing down on a scrumptious cashew only to find your next bite a putrid almond. Peanuts fill in the gap, providing sustenance and mild satisfaction but nothing completely mind-blowing or cathartic. To make matters worse, every once in awhile you’ll snap into one of those crunchy round bastards and cringe in disgust looking forward to a painful bowel movement approaching on the horizon.
“Monotheist” is not so much a culmination of creativity as it is glimpses of brilliance sugar-coated in an inordinate amount of fat. This is not the same group of men who produced the lukewarm “Cold Lake” and sinful “Vanity/Nemesis”. Nor is this the youth-invigorated team which had a whole generation shouting “MORBID TALES!!!” This is Thomas Gabriel Warrior, Martin Eric Ain and Franco Sesa circa 2006 and what we have here is both wholly unique and wholly interesting.
No one can deny the down-right dark atmosphere pervading this album. The subtle gothic Melodies punctuating cuts like “Obscured” and “Drown In Ashes” actually work in the band’s favor and despite my natural incongruence with such musical framework I am actually satisfied and uniquely piqued. The band still has this sinister feel not far from the likes of the Black Metal vibe. This can be distinctly felt in the opener “Progeny” which starts out with some interesting riffing and introduces us to the stellar vocal work of Warrior which has begun to bounce backward and recover from its foregone 19 year hiatus. Tom sounds fucking pissed as he screams and half-growls in a clean fashion to convey his vengeance upon the listener. The riffing never approaches the simplistic fury of “To Mega Therion” but the band certainly is taking a stab at quality and does not drastically miss the mark.
The band seems to be focused on a consistent flirtation with the Doom genre as a large chunk of this album never even makes it to the mid-paced range and utilizes those Gothic passages to maximum effect. Picture TYPE-O NEGATIVE without all the ironic humor and a newfound sense of sincerity and you have a fuzzy semblance of the picture. This highlights the project’s knack for evolution in conjunction with that harrying nod to the past. The ingenuity and altogether new elements finding their way into “Monotheist” consist of a conservative splatter of almost operatic female vocals and chunky riffing which hearkens to the contemporary Metal scene. The former is dodgy in theory but brilliant in action while the latter is utterly unforgivable. The chugging riffs which revolutionized contemporary Metal (sic) are tossed around liberally and contribute to the span of the range of tempo. Fortunately the atmosphere trumps the riff-work and provides a foundation for the compositions to sit upon, sparing the listener from agony. Thankfully, the howling of a woman in certain slower portions of the albums enhances the atmosphere and is used sparingly enough not to interfere with the record in an intrusive manner.
This is one twisted journey which unabashedly drags the listener through dirt, snow and grass in order to make a pseudo-philosophical statement about divine worship and the strength of man. “Monotheist” is an almost aggravating album in the sense that certain ideas are great and others should never have been conjured. Despite the reoccurring flaws and pitfalls of the album, I am utterly compelled to continually spin this disc. It is deceptively complex in nature and integrity; for this reason I cannot help but hesitantly recommend this long-player for those with an open mind. This album is simply a can of mixed nuts. (Online May 18, 2006)