The Mist From The Mountains
Monumental - The Temple of Twilight

If you have the balls to say “chilling-yet-breathtaking ruminations harken to the golden days of melodic, nature-inspired black metal, back during the mid ’90s. Names invoked include old Borknagar, Kvist, Arckanum, Old Man’s Child, Norway’s Gehenna, and even earliest Dimmu Borgir” in your promotional materials, you had better fucking back it up, and luckily the debut from this Finnish supergroup of sorts does exactly that.

With current and former members of Rapture, Scorngrain, Alghazanth, Black Beast, and most importantly (when releasing melodic black metal at least),  Havoc Unit/…And Oceans, including two vocalists, the project is full of Finnish veteran talent and it shows, as Monumental-The Temple of Twilight is a goddamn spot-on delivery of the genre and bands mentioned in the promotional materials, especially the nature-based early days of Borknagar, down to Garm/ICS Vortex- ish clean vocals here and there. I’d even throw in Ulver’s debut, Bergtatt, and Mother North era Satyricon as a possible reference as well as the album has an organic but epic and crisp, clean, wintery, woodsy elegance.

From windswept opener “Empyrean Fields” (with the main riff that could be from Old Man’s Child debut) to closer “After God”, the above influences are immediately and impressively apparent, and the 8 song 38 minutes run time is absolutely enthralling and nostalgic from start to finish. The tracks all feature blustery, but melodic blast beats and militant, proud, pagan-infused, anthemic marches. The keyboards don’t make it a full-on bombastic, symphonic, orchestral affair, but add just enough subtle swirling, regal majesty to the proceedings.

Like “Empyrean Fields”, the second, standout track “A Paean to Fire” invokes Old Man’s Child with its frosty opening riff but you can also hear the Borknagar (especially about three minutes in) and Satyricon aura shine through the mists. “Thus Spake the Tongueless Serpent” delivers a stern mid-paced march, with some angelic female vocals, and the albums almost 9-minute centerpiece “With the Sun and the Skies and Birds Above” is basically pure Borknagar debut album wrapped into one song; folky acoustics, crisp blast beats, and witchy rasps. However, the closing track “After God” is somehow even more so, as it could have come from The Olden Domain with its wintery majesty, a perfect track for a hike in the snowy hills this time of year, replete with austere Viking -y clean chorals.

In all one of the better, purest forms of (very band-specific) 90s black metal worship I’ve heard since Northwind Wolves, Cold… Dark… Grim in 2017 and a band I hope to hear a lot more from in the future.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 3rd, 2022

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