Mar 292024

Today we premiere a full stream of Ego Sum Dolor, the fourth album to emerge, after four years of work, from the Saint Petersburg death metal band Monastery Dead. It will be co-released on March 31st by Satanath Records (Georgia) and Australis Records (Chile).

If your Latin is rusty, the album’s title translate to “I am pain”, or perhaps “I am in pain”. Consistent with that title, the concept of the album is described as follows:

This is a story about a man doomed to experience all the suffering and torment destined for him in his life, here and now. He bears the burden of merciless retribution, which, like stigmata, he acquired by birthright, experiences pain and inflicts pain, is obsessed with destruction and destroys himself. His own wounds and those of his victims will never heal and will bleed forever.

Or to put it more succinctly: “The basis of the concept of the release is the idea that the real hell is our current existence on Earth.”

With an inspiration and an outlook such as that, it will come as no surprise that the music itself is tormented, vicious, and punishing on multiple levels. Moreover, the production quality channels the music with both sharpness and distinct separation among the ingredients, but without sacrificing the music’s often brutalizing power.

What might come as a surprise is that this music is about as far from dreary, depressive, or doom-saturated as you could possibly imagine. It is instead an explosive, head-spinning extravaganza.

The fine-tuned clarity of the production fuels the darting and delirious frenzies in the riffing and the screaming contortions of the guitar-leads in ways that make them even more crazed and searing, and it delivers the turbulent bass lines and furious percussive assaults with plundering force. But the clarity also puts a spotlight on the eye-popping technical skill of the performers and the intricate plotting of the songwriting.

You’ll discover right from the start that Monastery Dead‘s conception of pain isn’t like the agony and oppressiveness of a cancer ward. They go fast, and they’re very adept at going fast, all the better to whip up hurricanes of savagery and mind-bending instrumental roller-coaster rides.

And yes, you’ll discover that the band make sharp twists and turns in the blink of an eye, and they also infiltrate their blazing and battering assaults with fluid, swirling, clarion-clear soloing that seizes attention in its contrasts with the rapidly scissoring and slashing riffage and the highly mechanized munitions masquerading as drumwork. (The soloing wouldn’t be out of place in a prog-metal band, and inclines toward the exotic in its melodies, yet seems comfortably at home adding its gleaming filigrees to this blazing and berserk death metal).

Adding to the exhilaration of the music, the vocals come forth like the enraged, belly-deep growls of a ravenous beast, a torment of yet another kind — a very dangerous kind. Like his bandmates, vocalist Anton Malov is also capable of going very fast in the ejection of his gritty barks, and he elevates into the howls of a rabid wolf.

We’ve already noted that Monastery Dead revel in bringing sharp twists and turns into their music, and in doing that they venture outside the confines of death metal. If you want a standout example of just how adventurous they become, check out the album’s fifth track, “Mindscars“.

They begin that song with crystalline choral voices singing, like a solemn ecclesiastical hymn from many centuries ago, and then follow it with rapidly writhing and squealing fretwork, angry roars, and bursts of obliterating drumwork.

On a dime, they then start switching the tempos and the patterns, with all the instrumentalists going wild in their cavorting and combustion, but also with guitars that express suffering in near-hallucinatory fashion, and with bursts of jackhammering punishment. Then comes one of those fascinating guitar solos, slithering like a golden snake and spiraling in splendor, followed by a finale of darting and screaming fretwork and full-tilt drum-fire.

But we don’t mean to suggest that “Mindscars” is an aberration. All these relatively compact songs are head-spinners, all of them capable of flooding the listeners with adrenaline and leaving them wide-eyed at the high-octane exuberance channeled by the band, and at the electrifying ruthlessness of the beatings they administer.

One piece of warning: Ego Sum Dolor is a non-stop spectacle. There’s no point of any significant duration when the band ease back on their wide-open throttle, no real chance for you to take any deep breaths or to calmly reflect on the furious extravagance of what’s happening. Yet the spectacle is so… spectacular… that it doesn’t wear out its welcome, even if it might leave you needing a nap afterward.

Anton Malov — vocals
Kirill Tatarinov — guitars, backing vocals
Vadim Nikolaev — bass
Kirill Zharikov — drums

This album is likely to appeal to fans of such bands as old-school Suffocation, Immolation, Pestilence, and other bands capable of combining technical mastery and intricacy with savagery, but as noted, they bring in proggy proclivities as well.

Satanath and Australis will release Ego Sum Dolor in a jewel-box CD edition with a 20-page booklet, limited to 500 copies, and also digitally. The cover art is the work of Ivan Stan.



 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.