When you kickstart your new album with a 15 minute excursion into sludge-infested, doom-addled pastures then you’re probably not bothered about testing the patience of your fanbase. Of course, when it comes to France’s Monarch, these deliverers of drone have no need to please the masses as their rabid followers will undoubtedly lap up the monumental soundscapes found on Never Forever.
Frankly, “Night, With Knives” – the aforementioned haunting opener – is an absolute masterpiece. Ethereal yet crushing, the unsettling vocals of Emilie Bresson swirl around a sparse yet crushing arrangement, politely foreshadowing armageddon before bringing the hammer down with well timed blows of aggression; 15 minutes of pleasure and pain.
“Song To The Void” is then an ironic title as these aren’t really ‘songs’, they’re simply amplified noise conjoined to Emilie Bresson’s spellbinding clean vocals and her unruly shrieks. Akin to the kind of soundtrack David Lynch employs, everything on Never Forever is uniquely unsettling, threatening violence at every turn without once having to resort to cliche or familiar methods.
The 17 minutes of “Cadaverine” positively floats through the ether, waspish in form as it slowly dances around your ears; threatening, poised and fully capable of painfully stinging over and over with each deftly delivered dive into funeral doom. It’s another epic that is simply magnificent and devoid of generic construct.
Funeral doom is the ultimate selling point here but this album does not prescribe to simplified box ticking. So, we’ll just settle on this: Monarch take doom metal to extremes….and you’ve gotta love ’em for it! 8/10
Never Forever was released on CD/2xLP/Digital on Sept 22 via Profound Lore Records.