The Black Monolith - Sovereign Will
Released off label 2023
This review was commissioned. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.
The Black Monolith is a case where aesthetic beats out the music, to be blunt. And by that I mean that the dude behind the project has excellent taste and knows his audience well; his artist image is of him in a darkened robe holding a skull with his long hair dangling out. An ominous picture if I ever saw one and one that bleeds CVLT. And the cover art for the album in conversation is grand; it looks like an old photograph dug up out of the dirt in a horror movie before a couple of clueless teenagers unleash a horror upon themselves from the depths of hell. Unfortunately, all of this does not counter the rather dull dark ambient that The Black Monolith puts out.
Take the first song on the album, for example, ‘Will Unbound’. This is a seven-minute and forty-four second meditation that practically repeats itself for the exact same amount of time. Static ambiance and oppressive synths ebb and flow with higher pitched synths in a loop. While I was at first enticed by the sound and the cleanliness of production, it soon gave way to boredom as I realized nothing else was going to happen.
The same can be said for ‘Illuminating the Path’. Again, it’s very clean work and the production value is good. However, for twelve minutes and thirty-two seconds the most I got from this work was the occasional pitch shift, as one synth gave way for another. It’s very simple, very basic, not complex, so on and so forth.
‘Keys to Inner Mastery’ came next and the vibes fit perfectly as the buzzing came to a head. But, again, very simple. Drone synth notes that play out for a bit and then fade; nothing crazy, nothing outstanding that keeps me engaged in comparison to other dark ambient acts in the world. Any of my previous comments can apply to the final song on “Sovereign Will”, so I’ll avoid repeating myself.
Now, the question then becomes whether there is a use for “Sovereign Will”. And the answer is absolutely; I think this is excellent background music for a local TTRPG, but I don’t think this could ever be the focal point for much of anything. There’s a TON of dark ambient music out there exactly like this, and it doesn’t stand out from the crowd all that much. Very average, nothing too terrible, but nothing too great, either.Oct 21 2023
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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