Today is the release date of Epsilon Aurigae, the fifth album by the remarkable Parisian doom band Monolithe, and in cooperation with Debemur Morti Productions we have for you a full stream of the album.
Epsilon Aurigae is divided into three tracks — “Synoecist”, “TMA-0”, and “Everlasting Sentry” — each of them exactly 15 minutes in length. All three are massively heavy, atmospherically chilling, and ultimately spellbinding in their effect.
Monolithe are sophisticated spell-casters. They have obviously devoted great care to this music, both in the layering and interaction of the instruments and in the clarity and power of the sound production. The tone of the drums and bass is earthshaking; the drumming in particular, which is extremely well done, is the great beating heart of the album. That cataclysmic rhythm section, joined together with the low-tuned repeating riffs, provides the songs with a backbone of iron, generating huge rhythms that are compelling.
The band surround that titanic drive-train with shimmering keyboard ambience that gives the music an unearthly glow, or something like the cobalt blue light that shines eerily from the depths of mountainous icebergs. The reverberating guitar melodies are often layered with multiple instruments producing different sounds (there are three guitarists on the band) and they have the air of laments — sorrowful and somber.
Sometimes the sound of those melodies is dismal, sometimes beautiful, but they’re always penetrating and dark. Listening is like diving into a deep blue hole, with crushing pressures and glowing phosphorescence all around you, or perhaps like a venture into the cold void of space. Either way, you really lose the sense that you’re standing on solid ground.
The extended instrumental sections of the song are in some ways reminiscent of long progressive jams, interesting and dynamic and easily capable of carrying you away, though sometimes it sounds as if you’re being transported to the brink of madness. In the third track, in addition to some mesmerizing guitar solos, the sound of orchestral strings and horns also play an important role, enhancing the song’s air of bleak majesty.
Where the vocals do appear, they’re mainly deep, gravel-gurgling growls, though deranged howls and crazed yells make brief appearances as well. They’re unsettling, but so are the vast hymns in which they appear.
This is dark atmospheric music, incisively textured and powerful in its emotional impact. But for all of its alien ambience and bereft melodies, the album is also a heavyweight crusher, and one of the most mesmerizing doom albums of the year.