Artist: The Monarch
Title: World Without End EP
Release Date: 09/27/2013
Reviewer: Ty DeLong
- The Sky Rolled Back Like a Scroll
- Before the Throne (A Multitude Without Number Clothed In White)
- Endless Rest
- For a Thousand Years (I Will Lay My Face On the Ground Before Thee)
Instrumental post-rock is one of my favorite genres, but I never know where to find bands comprised of believers who draw spiritual inspiration for the soundscapes they paint. When the emotional movements of the genre are infused with the aggression of metal, I can enjoy the end product even more. Enter The Monarch. They are the first Christian artist I’ve come across to meld the two worlds as well as ISIS, the secular archetype for blending metal with post-rock. I don’t know much about the band other than it appears to be comprised of a single guy living in Nanaimo, British Columbia, which only adds to the intrigue.
Based on the titles of the songs, the theme of the World Without End EP is Heaven, relying heavily on imagery from Revelation. The band begins the sonic journey with “The Sky Rolled Black Like a Scroll.” Ambient guitars and a haunting cello give a sense of foreboding appropriate to the track’s title. Distorted guitars swell at the very end into the powerful, feedback-laced opening of the second track. Portions of “Before the Throne” reminded me of The Sleep Design, at least until the aggression is unleashed nearly two minutes into the song.
This would be a good time to point out that, while I do consider this album post-rock due to the prolonged instrumental segments, there is a good amount of vocals, as well. All of the lyrics are worshipful, describing a posture of humility and awe toward God, and many are passionately screamed. There are several quieter passages with mellow and melodic vocals that fit very well with the complex instrumentation. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the vocal performance since the artist seems to focus much on their music composition, but I was pleasantly surprised. The screams are strong, clear, and diverse, and the cleans remind me subtly of the quieter passages in As Cities Burn, both good things.
“Before the Throne” clocks in at over ten minutes, which seems to indicate The Monarch isn’t as concerned with making hits as taking the music where it leads. Though I’m certainly a fan of the style, I still didn’t find myself getting bored or wanting to skip to the next track. Something is always changing in the music, seguing into the next movement.
“Endless Rest” brings piano into the picture for the first time as the tempo of the album slows significantly. I would best describe this track as brooding, consisting entirely of muted piano and reverberating guitars. Again, it flows nicely into the next song, which sadly is the final one on the EP.
“For a Thousand Years” unabashedly opens with lines of praise: “Hallelujah / Hallelujah / For His steadfast love endures forever.” I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the band is able to create an atmosphere of worship that seems especially honest. The subdued melody doesn’t stay for long, however, before a hard-hitting instrumental and vocal breakdown reinforces that the love does, indeed, last forever. Yet that passage ends as quickly as it came, and the album closes with guitar, piano, and stripped-down refrains of “hallelujah.”
Overall: The Monarch pack a huge punch into a four-track EP. Dynamic song structures, atmosphere, and aggression blend with prophetic imagery to create a whole world of awe and emotion. Just when you think you know where the album is going, it takes a turn and exposes a new element of what the artist can do. I give the EP a 5/5. It is exemplary of the genre and well worth downloading (and throwing a few bucks at the artist) to encourage him to keep making such excellent music. The World Without End EP is available on Bandcamp.
RIYL: Life In Your Way, Sleeping Giant, ISIS, The Sleep Design