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Greetings! My name is Matthew, and I love to listen to all types of metal. I'm a high school English teacher and aspiring writer. I also write reviews for the Metal Utopia webzine!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monotheist - "Unforsaken" Review

Monotheist - Unforsaken
Shigionoth Records
Genre:  Progressive death metal


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Prophet (all instruments and backing vocals)
Jake Rice (vocals)
Elyssa Coultas (backing vocals)

        Monotheist has re-released their debut album Unforsaken on Shigionoth Records with stunning artwork by Gabriel Neal (Ecthirion).  Which is a good thing, because good luck finding a copy of the original.  The disc has been re-mastered, which certainly helps the overall production.  Monotheist plays an interesting blend of death metal laced with progressive elements:  odd time signatures, lengthy songs, and female vocals.  There are some obvious influences, with Extol immediately coming to mind, but Monotheist doesn’t simply rely upon the art of others.  In a world over-drenched with petty bands attempting to gain glory and fame, Monotheist rises shoulders above.
            The music on Unforsaken is the complete sandwich.  Where some bands simply slap some meat on a plate and call it a day, Monotheist adds a well-toasted bun, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, pickles, and mustard.  Okay, even I admit that analogy came out of nowhere.  But whether or not you hold to the belief that Unforsaken is analogous to a juicy sub sandwich, you have to admit that the band is doing something right.  Guitar riffs and solos by Prophet rent the air with startling alacrity, and are in the next moment juxtaposed against soothing melodic sections.  Brutality is complemented by beauty.  Jake Rice has a low, gritty voice that is perfectly tuned for death metal, and he doesn’t hold back as he growls his way through the album.
            The album starts off with a shorter piece called “Beheading Azazel.”  It’s certainly a fuel primer as it gets the blood flowing and the heart racing.  One can imagine a sword cleaving Azazel as the righteous warriors of God petition the Almighty with praises.  “Shroud of the Malefactor” features driving Extol-esque guitar lines interspersed with melodic breaks.  The guitar work at times is frenzied, yet in time with the music.  “Morningstar” is a phenomenal instrumental.  The melody is both beautiful and memorable, and I find myself returning to this track over and over.  There is something uplifting about it.  The ending title track, “Unforsaken,” starts out with a calming riff and then proceeds through over 15 minutes of epicness.  Female vocals provide an atmospheric tone and the guitar solo towards the end of the song is ace.  There isn’t any filler on the record besides a 30 second instrumental, which is unusual.  Even though many of the songs are quite long, the band manages to retain the listener’s interest. 
            With all this praise, I’m starting to look like a fanboy (which I am, to some degree).  But everything isn’t exactly where it should be on Monotheist’s debut album.  The mixing could be greatly improved.  Clean vocals are often hard to hear and fall into the background.  In fact, a few times the clean vocals were a bit jarring and didn’t seem to wholly fit with the music.  The percussion sounds fairly thin and serves mostly to keep the beat.  You won’t find any Jayson Sherlocks here—but still, the job gets done. 
            Fans of Becoming the Archetype, Extol, old-school Opeth, and Deus Invictus should be flocking to Unforsaken like bears to honey.  It’s a real shame that Monotheist remains an underground phenomenon.  If this review has sparked interest in at least one bone of your body, then you should do yourself a favor and look into the release further.  I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. 

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