We first encountered the Orlando-based progressive death metal band Monotheist through their impressive 2013 EP, Genesis of Perdition, which followed an hour-long debut album (Unforsaken) that had first appeared roughly six years earlier. The band delivered a single in 2016, and at last a second album has now been completed. Entitled Scourge, it will be released through Prosthetic Records on March 16th.
The new album continues to feature the eclectic interests and creative guitar performances of founder Michael “Prophet” Moore as well as the vocal ravages of JJ “Shiv” Polachek IV (7 Horns 7 Eyes, ex-Ovid’s Withering) and the drumming of Cooper Bates, but the line-up also now includes new participants: bassist Jose Figueroa (who we’re told is a rising star of the Orlando jazz scene) and second guitarist/vocalist Tyler McDaniel (ex-Gigan) from DeLand, Florida.
The first side of Scourge begins with “The Grey King” (which premiered here and includes a guest appearance by Christian Älvestam) and “The Great Chain At the Neck of the Earth”, and then it moves into a two-part composition. The first part, “Mark of the Beast I: The Image” functions as a two-minute prelude to the song we’re premiering today: “Mark of the Beast II: Scion of Darkness“.
Michael Moore has given us this comment about the song we’re presenting today:
“‘”Scion of Darkness’ is about man’s hope of transcendence through technology. It’s about the fallacy of trusting our own frail and corrupted nature in an effort to ascend to salvation and the belief that this path ultimately leads to disappointment and enslavement. Musically, this track is the second part of a two-part mini-suite entitled “Mark of the Beast” and features a recurring, Baroque-inspired motif that is present in part 1 (the previous track in the album track listing). It’s also one of the most enjoyable songs to play off of the album. We hope you all enjoy this track and check out the album when it drops March 16th!”
“Scion of Darkness” may be fun to play, but it’s also fun to hear, in all of its many facets — and it definitely is a multi-faceted trip. If there’s a main through-line to the song, apart from the strains of melody that pull everything together, it’s the full-throttle, technically impressive death metal attack that explodes from the gate at the outset and continues to surge across most of the track’s eight-minute run-time. Marked by stop-start drum battering and segmented by huge rhythmic hammer blows, that attack is delivered through swarms of vicious buzzing riffs and by Shiv Polachek’s gravel-throated roars (with livid shrieks in the mix as well).
Bursts of head-long drum galloping or drum-kit machine-gun fire make their own contributions to the song’s dynamics, along with streamers of eerie melody and a pair of fluid guitar solos that spiral and sparkle. But still more facets are revealed. Just before the halfway mark, there’s a striking change of style and tone — a jazzy little interlude that’s then followed by proggy interplay among all the instrumentalists. When the drum cadence slows dramatically, a heavy, dark, groaning kind of gloom descends, accented by guitar notes that ring like strange chimes, and by a tortured shrieking voice that amplifies the feeling of desolation and anguish. The intensity mounts again as the band segue seamlessly into a racing, pummeling crescendo.
Scourge was mixed and mastered by Aaron Smith (Envisage Audio) and features guest contributions not only from Christian Älvestam but also Bobby Koelble (ex-Death, Death to All), as well as other talented members of the progressive death metal community. The immediately recognizable cover art was created by Sam Nelson.
The album will be released by Prosthetic on all digital outlets, on CD, and in a limited vinyl edition (blue with orange and yellow swirls).