I know that Poland’s history with metal isn’t exactly empty, but I feel like the last two years have been awash with great records from Polish bands in a variety of genres. Monasterium are a striding, epic doom band from Krakow whose third record, Cold Are The Graves is out now through Nine Records, and we are expecting a vinyl release in September too! But does this have enough to join the pantheon of Polish perfection?
The cold, strident tones of opener The Stigmatic would almost lead you to believe you’re about to get some bleak black metal until a big thick Candlemassian riff rolls in, and then those iconic Swedes feel like a major influence throughout the rest of this massive melancholic stomp. A morose and grandiose sound, Monasterium‘s riffs are sodden with a gloomy coating, but their approach still feels almost upbeat.
Rousing tales of fantasy and epic myth underpin the powerful Cimmeria, which has some real King Diamond vibes to it, as well as the galloping Seven Swords Of Wayland, which brings me to an Angel Witch comparison, particularly of their As Above, So Below record. It melds trad metal to a more measured and heavier pace in a way I find really intoxicating.
Cold Are the Graves captures a love of metal’s most core principles, and a rousing return to classic metal’s obsession with swords, sorcery, and myth…
Monasterium‘s work reminds me a lot of Twilight Of The Gods, Nemtheanga’s ‘true metal’ project and their brilliant Fire On The Mountain record from 2013. Cold Are the Graves captures a love of metal’s most core principles, and a rousing return to classic metal’s obsession with swords, sorcery, and myth. You feel that in the beautiful acoustica of Remembered, a mythical forest campfire ballad if there ever was one, or in the storytelling panache of The Siege.
There are a couple of Iommi-isms in the guitar work of Necronomicon that give me literal shivers of joy, while the booming title track, Cold Are The Graves, is all Edling/Marcolin worship in its most sincere and flattering form. During the acoustic interlude, you can almost see the misted mountains and endless woods if you close your eyes.
I feel like the world of proper epic doom struggles to find real champions in this day and age, with the genre tending to roll downhill towards death/doom and funeral doom. But if Monasterium have anything to do with it, there will always be a champion of the grand, striding thunder, wielding mighty riffs and powerful vocals. Cold Are The Graves is that champion’s weapon of choice, and potent it surely is. All hail!
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson