Album Review: Behold! The Monolith – Defender, Redeemist [10 out of 10]

By Andrew Bansal

Los Angeles’ very own stoner metal trio Behold! The Monolith are ready to release their second full-length album “Defender, Redeemist”. It will be the band’s third overall release, following the 2008 self-titled debut EP and the 2009 self-titled full-length.

I was first introduced to the band when they opened for Armored Saint on a memorable night at the House of Blues in Hollywood on May 28th 2010. I clearly remember that even though the show was sold out, a very small portion of the crowd was actually there to see Behold! The Monolith, which is unfortunate, because they missed a great band. They made a solid first impression on me, as their music and on-stage appearance gave me a vibe that I would describe as a mix of Black Sabbath and Motorhead. Subsequently, I checked out their self-titled album, and really enjoyed it. Now, I’m excited to give their new album a listen to find out how much they’ve progressed since then.

The short 90-second intro “Guardian’s Procession” gives the album a very ominous start, and leads into “Halv King”. The tune boasts of full-on intensity and speed to begin with, and then settles down into a slow, doom-laden track. The guitar riffs and solos are simply fantastic, specially the solo that brings the song to an end. It sounds very exotic, and very much reminds me of the solos on Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave” record. This terrific start to the album is followed by “Desolizator”. In essence, it’s a two-part tune. In its first half, it has more of a straight-up stoner feel to it, similar to bands like Down, although Kevin McDade’s coarse vocals still keep the aggressive element intact. But an epic interlude changes the mood completely and the doomish atmosphere returns for the remainder of it. It’s a very interesting tune, very diverse within itself, and one that manages to keep the listener’s attention throughout.

Things get even more menacing in “Redeemist”, a tune that truly expresses itself. It’s incredibly gripping and builds itself up in an excellent manner. Even though it’s 11 minutes in duration, it never really feels that long to me because of the sheer depth in the music. “We Are The Worm” is much faster to begin with, and serves as the perfect follow-up. I absolutely love the main riff here, smooth, heavy and very Sabbath-esque. And much like the other tunes on this album, this one also goes through a tempo-change midway and ends up being just about as epic as anything else on the album, despite its relatively short duration.

“Witch Hunt Supreme”, a tune that originally appeared on the band’s debut EP, resurfaces on this album, and I’m glad they included it because it goes very well with the rest of the album. Right from its first note, it grabs the listener and never lets go. No amount of words can sufficiently describe how killer this tune really is. It’s a journey in itself, one I’m sure every listener will enjoy. The next track is made up of three songs “Cast On The Black”, “Lamentor” and “Guided By The Southern Cross” all interlaced together. The initial portion is ominously slow and heavy, and leads into a quiet and mellow middle segment which is decorated with some delightful acoustic guitar play. The electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals slowly kick in and bring back the stoner doom vibe, but the acoustic guitar keeps revisiting the tune. It’s easily the most epic composition on this record, and in fact, this 14-minute opus is one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard in recent times. “Bull Colossi” brings the album to an end, and after the previous track on the album, this one almost gives the feel of an encore. In that sense, it fits perfectly as the final piece in this offering.

I’ve always felt that each member of a three-piece band gets complete freedom to express himself, much more so than a musician who’s part of a four, five or six-piece band. Behold! The Monolith’s new album is a classic example. While listening to it, you can clearly identify the individual efforts of Matt Price, Kevin McDade and Chase Manhattan on guitar, bass/vocals and drums respectively.

In comparison to their previous efforts, I would say the band is more focussed on this album. Even though there is a variety of musical elements throughout the album, the apocalyptic doom vibe is created right from the first note, and never leaves the album at any point. This vibe binds the eight tracks together brilliantly and makes “Defender, Redeemist” worthy of continuous long-play. Fans of the older material will find plenty here that they’ll identify with, but the music is stronger, darker, more diverse, and certainly more epic. Thus there is no doubt in my mind that the band has expanded and developed musically since the 2009 full-length release.

Behold! The Monolith will bring great pride to the Los Angeles metal scene, because everyone will be swept away by this truly mind-blowing album in the coming weeks. A relentlessly amazing record from start to finish, this one comes as strongly recommended from me to all fans of heavy music.

Rating: 10/10

US Release Date: January 24th 2012
Label: Self-released

Track Listing:
1.) Guardian’s Procession (1:35)
2.) Halv King (4:17)
3.) Desolizator (6:26)
4.) Redeemist (11:06)
5.) We Are the Worm (4:53)
6.) Witch Hunt Supreme (6:58)
7.) Cast on the Black / Lamentor / Guided by the Southern Cross (13:51)
8.) Bull Colossi (8:05)