You know this is going to be not so much dark, as positively black, right? Look at the cover art: there’s a fucking goat on it. Nothing say terrifyingly, inhumanly bleak, satanic metal noise rage like a horned goat on an album’s sleeve. Ever since Bathory’s gut-churningly nasty, backer-than-back, dredged from the bowels of hell debut, the goat has been the signifier.
Monocube know all about dark atmospherics: the album begins with ominous fear tones hanging in a shroud of creeping mist. They’re master of the slow-build, too: the album’s first track, ‘Visiones III’ is nine minutes in length, the whispering ambience and contrails of darkness hovering in the air as the listener is led through uncertain, uncharted territory as the nebulous sonic cloud lowly turns in space. This isn’t nearly as gnarly as the cover art suggests though. What’s going on?
‘Drowned Sun’ lunges into the subterranean realms of dark ambience and burrows its way toward a chthonic unpleasantness. With a heaving (heat) beat and yawning undulating drones it’s wholly uncomfortable listening. ‘Downward’ follows the same dark ambient path, inching into the bowel-trembling depths of Sunn O))) and Earth in their dronetastic first iteration. The low-end frequencies hurt, while the shifting higher levels disorientate and unsettle.
It’s becoming apparent that this is no thrashy, guitar-based black metal effort – although it is seriously fucking dark. The weight of the endless, grating drones which swirl and eddy menacingly is monumentally oppressive.
Perhaps you, like me, have deduced that the goat was a lie at least on a superficial level. Monocube aren’t a band you’ll find lurking in the woods, daubed in corpse paint. They aren’t about making heavy guitar noise and snarling like extras from ‘The Walking Dead’. Perhaps because of this, rather than in spite of it, they’re a whole lot scarier.