Well, hilly anyway…
Presented by Final Gate Records on 18 March 2016 and probed by Jason Guest
German doom rock quartet Monolith make little attempt to disguise the glaringly obvious Black Sabbath influence in their sound. Indeed, vocalist / guitarist Ralf Brummerloh sounds so much like Ozzy that you have to keep checking the line-up to make sure it’s not him. The riffs too borrow heavily from the Iommi school of down-tuned devastation. But with a band name shared with a whole host of others and a listen or two to their 2013 demo and their 2014 debut album Dystopia, it seems that originality isn’t too high on their list of priorities.
But this isn’t a bad album. But neither is it great. There are some great riffs, plenty of heavy grooves and there’s plenty of emotive lead work evocative of that late 60s/early 70s feel, but other than ‘Moonshine Medication’ with its catchy chorus, there’s not much that really takes hold. ‘Lies & Deceit’ sees them toying more explicitly with 60s psychedelia and moving closer to creating something almost original and further from the countless Black Sabbath sound-alikes out there. ‘Tide’ takes the same approach and would be successful were it not for the Ozzy worship, and acoustic closer ‘Blackbird’, with harmonica accompanying the shaky vocal performance, sees Monolith trying something different with limited success.
The trouble with this album is that we have heard it so many times already. In terms of production, with a loose and comfortable performance and a barebones and raw sound, it’s got a live feel to it that serves the album well. The bass is pretty high in the mix and farts its way through some impressive lines that when they lock in with the drums make for a cool rhythm section. Good musicians, good but not great songs, more homage than innovation, it’ll be an album or two before Monolith begin to make that band name their own…
6 out of 10
- Standing Tall
- High Horse
- Moonshine Medication
- Lies & Deceit