Sure, Sleep’s one-track doom behemoth Dopesmoker/Jerusalem might have a lot of excess to answer for, but there are striking moments of inspiration to be found amidst legions of acolytes letting one chord ring for three hours. Case in point: France’s Monarch. Unlike the usual concentration on expressing despair, frustration, and hopelessness, Monarch deconstruct the more formalized structures of doom metal, using them to more abstracted aims. And so it is with Mer Morte, a lengthy piece of strange, haunting, nonlinear music. The tools of the trade of metal and doom — guitar, bass, drums, vocals — are used here to generate tone, shade, outline, and suggestion in an almost painterly fashion. Yeah, the color palette is harsh black and stark grey, but it’s still fucking painterly. No verse, no chorus, no Sabbath boogie. Chords are hit tentatively without a riff scheme, feedback is carefully manipulated and restrained, drums crash and tick-tick-tick according to avant-garde timekeeping, and the vocals of Emilie Bresson set new standards in wordless torment and self-flaying agony. (Ghostly wails that occasionally veer towards the melodic give way to harsh screams.) Simmering, rather than slashing or grinding.
The listener will detect and follow a subconscious ebb and flow, with the net effect of this album will be somewhere between Coil, Sunn O))), Jarboe, free jazz, and Halloween soundtracks.
Crucial Blast: www.crucialblast.net