Behold! the Monolith
Architects of the Void

This is Behold! the Monolith’s first release since Vocalist/Bassist Kevin Dade was tragically killed in a car accident a couple years back; not too long after releasing their sophomore album, Defender, Redeemist. That album was a pretty solid slab of whatever you call their punky/doomy/sludgy/thrashy/modern/traditional heavy metal; and an album that showed a lot of forward progression and growth from their eponymous first album.

Behold! the Monolith was a band on their way to doing great things; so when Kevin died, a lot of us sadly shook our heads and said “Well, that’s that. These guys are done”. I mean, how could they recover from the loss of someone who was such a commanding and integral presence in their band?

Yes they can. And pretty well, actually.

Instead of trying to find one guy to fill Kevin’s roll as vocalist and bass player, Behold! the Monolith found two guys to handle those duties solely. This has added a whole new level of versatility to Behold! the Monolith’s sound. Basically, it’s like replacing a frontman like Lemmy, who does his thing well, but has to compensate for some musical diversity with a lot of charisma. Change out a guy like that with a couple of extremely competent musicians that cover their respective roles well. It adds a whole new dimension to Behold! the Monolith that wasn’t there before.

It’s an understatement to say that the new Behold! the Monolith album is really fucking good. On several fronts, Architects of the Void pulls ahead of their prior albums with some needed improvements. The production is better. The songwriting is more cohesive. The new vocalist is more dynamic and versatile. A lot of stars aligned here, that hadn’t on past releases.

There are some stylistic changes in songwriting that have to be pointed out here, which has to be due to the addition of fresh blood. The core nature of the rhythmic drive and interplay between the drums and bass is the most jarringly apparent. The difference is that they have shed a big portion of the “highonfire by-way-of Motorhead” rhythmically ramshackle clatter, for a (slightly) more refined, classic metal galloping drive. It’s not necessarily better; I enjoy both. But it is noticeably different.

On albums past, the more doom driven elements of this band always were the weakest part of what Behold! the Monolith does, in my opinion. That may be that they didn’t write stuff I found compelling as much as when they were sloppily thrashing the fuck out; or it could be I suffer from ear fatigue from the ubiquitous stranglehold doom/sludge/stoner metal has had on the underground metal scene for over a decade.

On the first two albums, these guys frustrated me by unnecessarily downshifting from galloping hard on the plains, into these go-nowhere chug…..chug…..chug…. riffs that had Behold! the Monolith tripping over their shoestrings and losing momentum before moving onto something good again. It was something that bugged me in the past enough to downgradeĀ Behold! the Monolith from a “Great Band”, to a band that was merely good.

So, it comes as a bit of a surprise to me that the doom elements on Architects of the Void are what rung my bell the hardest. And what an improvement. More of the gothic, elegant gloom of classic doom metal bands like Trouble or Candlemass, and less the abrasive, grating nihilism of sludge bands like Grief. It is most welcome to these ears.

The Billy Anderson production is surprisingly dynamic and clear, especially in light of a guy that his made his career as a merchant of mud; who often trading out dynamic range for oppressive heaviness. It’s good to hear an old dog learn new tricks.

Across the board, Architects of the Void is replete with improvements and upgrades, adding a lot of light and shade; to a sound that was a lot of times a bit monochromatic. If you were a bit underwhelmed at past Behold! the Monolith releases, give this a listen. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Timothy D White
October 2nd, 2015

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