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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Album Review - La Fin du Monde: Monolith

Chico, California based instrumental act La Fin du Monde, which translates to “The End of the World” for those who don’t speak the language of love, has released an impressive slab of experimental, jazz metal with their latest album, Monolith. I hesitate to call this “post-metal” due to the severe overuse of that term, but comparisons to bands like Pelican, Isis and others of that ilk will give you a fine idea of the style that La Fin du Monde practices.

Listening to Monolith is the aural equivalent of sitting on a beach watching the tide ebb and flow. At once subtle, peaceful and altogether soothing, the music washes over you, lulls you into a trance and then crushes you like a tidal wave. You don’t just listen to Monolith, you experience it.

Guitarists Adam Scarborough and Chris Roberts weave a complex web of interesting melodies, harmonies and sounds throughout the album, while bassists Josh Kinsey and Mike Crew simultaneously alternate between solid rhythm foundations and leads of their own. As a matter of fact, at times it is difficult to differentiate whether or not what you are hearing is coming from one of the guitarists, or if it is actually being played by one of the bassists. By creating a sturdy backbone to the complex tunes, drummer Dan Elsen does a fantastic job of keeping the whole ensemble from coming off the rails. The absence of vocals is essential to the overall experience, as they would only serve to detract from the cohesive flow of the album.

A track by track breakdown of Monolith would be a pointless exercise and song titles are irrelevant, as this album must be listened to in its entirety for the effect to take hold. As with any album of this sort, it takes multiple listens to “sink in”, but once it does, you’ll come to look forward to the nuances that appear throughout. A jarring guitar chord here, a soothing bass line there…La Fin du Monde has created a beautiful portrait of sound with Monolith that is ultimately greater than the sum of its parts. The whole thing meshes together so well in fact, it’s like listening to the soundtrack from a good dream…looking back you know you liked it, but you can’t quite remember any of the details.

Track Listing:

01. These Babies Are Edible
02. Dismal Tide
03. They Will Never See Us
04. Beast IV
05. We Will Fall

Band Members:

Adam Scarborough – Guitar
Chris Roberts – Guitar
Josh Kinsey – Bass
Mike Crew – Bass
Dan Elsen – Drums

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