Reviews Amebix Monolith (Reissue)

Amebix

Monolith (Reissue)

Seriously, Monolith being reissued in a digital format on a donation basis is an incredibly important occasion for several reasons that are worth being mentioned. But instead, let us focus on two particular ones here for the time being rather than run through some silly list. First, allow me to digress a bit. My first exposure to the strange and shadow filled intellectual space that Amebix inhabits came when reading the politically and potentially subversive focused print zine Inside Front and the editor, Brian Dingledine (vocalist of the underrated U.S. band, Catharsis) mentioned that he was looking for Amebix records. Immediately, I began to search out whatever my ignorant hands could get a hold of by this band that was being championed by the vocalist of a band that I admired (and still do). The first item that I got a hold of was a tape of Amebix's No Sanctuary (which will be re-released this year as well along with their Winter and Who's the Enemy EP’s) record which only served to further grow my interest in what this band had "available." Move forward a few years to my finally acquiring Monolith on LP, from what I knew this was one of the hardest Amebix records to come by and I had never heard it until then.

It is not readily apparent as the picking opening of the title track brings listeners in gradually to Monolith (the music builds steadily in intensity with a steady raising of the volume and addition of distortion) until the fade into "Nobody's Driving" makes us aware that there is a bit a thrash sound incorporated into their music. The first vocal lines and delivery are classic Amebix; "I awoke in a sweat, from the American Dream." The desperate tone of the vocal delivery is the most obvious link to the band's previous work while the quick tempo and the guitar sound is a significant change that is instantly recognizable. The barely controlled quality (almost like when a train runs off its tracks) of "The Power Remains" aids in perpetuating a strong dynamic when the band comes together at points that almost sound anthemic.

The measured pacing that gives "Last Will and Testament" its character makes this one of the more notable songs not just on Monolith but in their entire discography. There is an element of tension in the song that just does not release, which, depending on one's mood could be good or bad. "I.C.B.M." contains some excellent melodic moments and sweeping guitar lines that contrasts or is set up well by the mid-tempo chugging that the guitars relentlessly produce otherwise. The insistent riffing of "Chain Reaction" mixed with a nasty wall of sound from the guitar solo (which really serves as a noisy pummeling) underlies a great lyrical statement tackling the sentiment of doing it for yourself, "No gods, no masters" - another classic lyrical phrase by the band.

Monolith gets a bad rap being called the "metal" record for Amebix frequently, which is a huge disservice to the album when in reality it is an Amebix record through and through. Sure, there are some elements of thrash, but the desperate sound that the band creates so well is heard throughout the record. Monolith, particularly the last track "Coming Home," also points to the sound of the band's final recordings that later surfaced on the re-issue of their other full length, Arise. Regardless, Monolith is essential for fans of the band or crust punk in general, and now that the record is digitally re-issued, more people will be able to get a hold of it. The label, Moshpit Tragedy, is offering this on a sliding scale basis (you pay what you want from zero dollars, euros, pesos, etc on up so head on over to the site using the band link in the review). Take advantage of this new release and check out a band that has a huge influence on bands like Neurosis, Napalm Death, and tons of crust punk bands the world over.

8.0 / 10Bob
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