Originally written by Erik Thomas
Upon viewing the cover artwork and absorbing the initial waves of slow, melancholy post hardcore swathes of opener “On Cinders”, I was fully enveloped in Monarch’s seedy, post noise inspired metalcore that reminded me of bands like Buried Inside, Circles Over Sidelights, Burst and There Were Wires. After the initial promising ebbs and a few latter injections, Richmond, Virginia’s Monarch degenerated into some pretty generic and rather average if entertaining metalcore though.
It’s actually a bit of a shame, as when delivering shimmering atmospheric tracks or hypnotic instrumental pieces such as the opener or “Last Song”,Monarch dons the visage of a more Neurosis/Isis/Pelican like band instead of generic metalcore. There are a few OK moments within the more predictable tracks such as the blackened melody lines of “Lay With Me” or the mid paced Gothenburg pace and haughty atmospheric harmonies of “Elizabeth Anne”. In fact, the later stages of the album are pretty solid and salvage the album’s middle part that have rather forgetful metalcore tracks like “Simulacra”, “Apparition” and “Harlot”. Only “Gnashing of Teeth” stands out due to some dramatic harmonies and seething vocals.
The production is a bit flat, more suited to the band’s non committal ambience, leaving the direct metalcore strokes slightly shallow, but it does have a unique, bleak character about it that stands out amid the current trend of glossy Erik Rutan, Zach Ohren Tue Madsen, Alan Douches and Kurt Ballou efforts.
Monarch does have some promise, but will need to either polish up their metalcore to compete with the boys or flesh out their ambience to break from the predictable metalcore pack. Still, the album has some moments worth your time if you want something a little off the beaten path.