There may be no better test for the inherent power of a black metal artist’s statement than to simply be too busy for it and to let it insist its presence in your mind opportunistically. Of course this’d lead to a thousand subtleties lost and create some magnificently lazy critics, were that not already the case. When busied with thousands of tasks each day the doorway to information eventually blows its hinges and whatever cog a person situates themselves as begins to exist without meaning. To sit astray from the spoke’s revolutions and fall upon the floor (so to speak) allows for a welcome point of vulnerability. A void must be filled, not that of the machine itself but within the unwilling mind long compressed within humanity’s puzzle. With no intention of facilitating unjust societal existence, or mending those frayed edges of the ‘self’, the stream-like eddy of black metal is seemingly tailored for the flattened and scoured being. To scrape and smooth the unglued ‘self’ as if it were a stone in a wealth of sun and water so quickly describes the natural thaw of the increasingly melodious and triumphant mountains of Québecois black metal. What began as a raw and crackling blackened stone in 2003 has long been a pillar in the Québec scene that’d entangle with the ever-growing vines of fellow brilliant artists but, until more recently the studio affairs of Monarque hadn’t necessarily been as collaborative as on the projects first new release in six years ‘Jusqu’à la Mort’.
Monarque is well, Monarque, a musician who’d first appeared nearly two decades ago with a somewhat raw sound that’d quickly evolve into semi-melodic black metal a la Forteresse and with a bit of the rabid frost of Sorcier des Glaces. In fact today Monarque is often involved with each project as a live performer, within side-projects (Sacrenoir, Déliquescence) or employing the engineering experience/keyboard work of Sébastien Robitaille. Since 2008 (or 2010 on recordings) the employ of Bardunor (Crépuscule, Hiverna) on drums has severely increased the quality and impact of all recordings and increasing collaboration with Atheos of Délétère has likewise spiked the live and studio presence of Monarque, particularly on their third album, ‘Lys Noir’ (2013). With that clear apex in mind I would present its spore of greater melodic growth and grand atmospheric pouring as ‘Jusqu’à la Mort’, a three song and roughly 23 minute EP that should be received as the most gripping and resonant material from the project to date.
What is special about Monarque on this long overdue strike of material is arguably likewise shared among the higher quality atmospheric/melodic black metal coming from the Québecois scene today. Where ‘Jusqu’à la Mort’ specifically excels is its own thrilling poignancy that feels relevant to a ‘scene’ or ‘circle’ but begins to exist within its own secular celestial plain. There are no doubt projects and musicians out of the greater Paris area that are creating some similarly loft arrangements but some stylistic proximity with Forteresse gives Monarque a grand, spacious sensibility even during the most intimate emotional resonances. It is certainly more of a certain sound but an exemplar study in high atmospherics achieved in tandem with brilliant melodic sense.
The title track and “Le Serment Prononcé” are beautifully rendered, relevant to one another in their placement and together they showcase an increasingly successful bit of dramatic flair in comparison with ‘Lys Noir’. Ultimately it is the enormity of the 10+ minute “Le Grand Deuil” that first insisted I listen and later kowtow to its bulging sweep of ranting atmospheric guitar work. To begin, I’d simply put on ‘Jusqu’à la Mort’ to preview and (frankly) ignored it on the first couple of listens, as I’d been absorbed in other thoughts, yet it was that closing piece that pulled me away from the existential dread of task and into my own puddle of being. Because I was yanked from intentional focus towards the song’s tugging upon my subconscious it had all the more impact on me when fully sunken into and this despite it being a fairly uncomplicated atmospheric black metal arrangement with an equally simple melodic arc. There Monarque insisted upon a closer listen and that’d be a major point of recommendation as so few projects of this type ever produce statements worth noticing, repeating, and stewing within. However remarkable it’ll be to your own sensibilities that an EP sounded to me as if it were yearning to be heard and felt, I will highly recommend it nonetheless as the full body of ‘Jusqu’à la Mort’ is enjoyable both casually and highly repeatable within intentioned immersion. For preview I’d suggest the title track is most immediate in its creation of interest and statement of style but the mourning glow of “Le Grand Deuil” is the pièce de résistance.
Ajoute à la mort un règlement. 4.0/5.0
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