Sometimes, a band’s name winds up perfectly describing their sound. Los Angeles’s Behold! The Monolith, literally sound exactly like their band name. Having been around since 2009, I was at minimum familiar with their name, it’s a good one, and does stand out for originality in a genre not always known for it. Upon seeing their name in the promo pool, I recall some buzz from their Defender, Redeemist record in 2012, but tragedy befell the band as they lost bassist and vocalist Kevin McDade in 2013, thus derailing the band, as one would imagine a tragedy like that could.
The remaining members, guitarist Matt Price and drummer Chase Manhattan, explored other musical ventures before adding Menno Verbaten on bass/and vocals, thus kicking off a new era for the band. As I stated, although I was sonically unfamiliar with the band, I’d heard their name over the years, and went into the review of their fourth full-length From The Fathomless Deep with zero expectations.
With a name like Behold! The Monolith, I expected some heavy shit, and I wasn’t disappointed, as the band, while generally proffering in mid-tempo, Iommi movements, it also possesses a heavy, nihilistic, Neurosis vibe, evident on opener Crown-The Immeasurable Void, as Verbaten gets his best Kelly/Von Till vocal-action on, to say nothing of the crushing, apocalyptic riffing of Price. Like Neurosis, Behold! The Monolith, deliver some emotional depth and heft with some nice breakdown and passages between the heaviness.
The apocalyptic vibe continues on the marching, stomping Psychlopean Dread. Here, Verbaten drops into a more guttural, growly delivery, but the heaviness, and emotional heft remain, accentuated by some of Price’s lead flourishes. Elsewhere, Spirit Taker opens with a Mastodon-meets-Crowbar riff, and some killer pummeling from Manhattan, who sounds superb throughout the record, delivering killer fills, when need be, and adding the weight to the heaviness when called for. Behold! The Monolith weave between the heaviness and melodic breakdowns as the band show what they’re capable of. As well, I get a kind of late-period Carcass vibe as Verbaten definitely has a little Jeff Walker to his growl on Spirit Taker
a massive, riff-stuffed, lumbering, low-end, prog metal monster…
This Wailing Blade joins Spirit Taker as another riffy, up-tempo attack, while The Seams Of Pangaea, while heavy, and featuring a great stuttering bassline from Verbaten, trips out a little into ISIS territory. There are some nice movements and a real killer build-up to the payoff featuring plenty of wicked shreddery from Price, and some great bass playing from Verbaten, during the song’s trippy, prog-y outro before the band loop back into the main riff. The Seams Of Pangaea is a real highlight as Behold! The Monolith show off their sense of depth, as the band take the listener on a real journey.
Closer Stormbreaker Suite opens with sea sounds, features plenty of massive build-up riffage from Price, before the band launch into another dizzying, heavy, yet prog-y breakdown, with plenty of awesome musicianship from all three members, and it’s on the outro, we here Verbaten drops the growl, but sounding like he’s underwater.
From The Fathomless Deep is a massive, riff-stuffed, lumbering, low-end, prog metal monster. The record sounds fantastic, Price, Verbaten, and Manhattan all sound great and excel at their respective instruments.
I guess my one complaint would be, at 51, the guttural/growly vocals sound less appealing to my ears, especially an entire record’s worth. While not opposed to that vocal approach by any means, I find as time goes by, I’ll be slightly put-off with that approach throughout, but, Behold! The Mountain are a sludge band, and the vocals suit the music fine, I’m just nit-picking a bit. Looks like Ripple Music has yet another quality heavy release under their belts this year.
Scribed by: Martin Williams