Sonic Reign
Monument In Black

In this day and age of super speed, mega brutality and throwbacks there is something to be said for just riffs. Simple, catchy, driving riffs. And on their second effort of largely mid paced black ‘n’ roll styled metal, Germany’s Sonic Reign deliver them in spades.

Those who hated Satyricon‘s last couple of outings, Now Diabolical, and The Age of Nero will cringe at Monument in Black, as it culls heavily from both. But those who enjoyed the stripped down, riff based take on black metal, will find there is a lot to like here.

Those who like the last Ruins album as well as Secrets of the Moon‘s recent outputs might also enjoy Monument In Black. It’s full of longer songs full of tempered, grooving blackened riffs, gravelly, throaty vocals and the occasional frosty blasts, but for the most part it’s a restrained militant march that paces a majority of the album. Everything is rendered with a crisp, burly guitar tone with just a touch of blackened dusty-ness, but the entire affair is made to allow the steady, repetitive riffs expand and fill space. And they do. And while nothing truly leaps out, there is ample head nodding, rocking riffs in every lengthy song. Most seem to have nods to Satyricon‘s “K.I.N.G”, so feel free to use that as a starting point but there is just enough variety, and as I mentioned some more traditional black metal expulsions to keep it varied and interesting.

For example both opener “Abhorrence vs Scum” and “Clouds Above the Desert” inject some urgency into the album’s early stages of heaving steady riffs. It’s not the best tremolo picked black metal on the planet, but its latter Immortal-ish and breaks up the pace nicely. “The Whisperer in the Dark” is arguably the most Now Diabolical sounding track along with the 7 minute title track. “A Doctrine Unreachable” has an almost catchy chug as its main riff but by the time another real Satyricon sounding number, “Daily Nightmare Injected” rolls by as the albums penultimate track, you might have heard everything Sonic Reign have to offer, which makes the 8 minute closer “Soul Flagellation” a bit of a waste, which is a shame as it might be the album’s most varied and dynamic track. If you can just get to it straight away, it’s worth your while.

Not a bad release at all, and certainly a nice breather from everything so forced out there right now, but hardly a killer release. I will certainly listen to a track if it shows up randomly on my ipod, but I cant say I will go and look to play the whole album from start to finish.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 8th, 2013


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