Dark matter. A theme that truly is a bone of contention for some or a proven theory to others. Well, at least more or less. An elusive substance that some scientists state must exist, whereas others claim that it doesn’t. A theory that finds its origins in the late 1800’s, so it has been around for a while. But here we go, whilst the scientific community is split, it could be something that fills large parts of the universe.
Mysterious, raw, protoplasmic, untamed. A bit like Cthulhu with a mathematical equation for better credence. Metaphysics by dark entities that somehow govern our darkest urges. That’s some fodder for more tentacled beings and other cosmic horrors. And Palus Somni1) are actually looking for the boss of all that elusive matter. There you go.
But fear naught. Monarch of Dark Matter ain’t yet another Lovecraft tale on steroids. Instead, these folks truly tried to depict this cosmic chaos through a ton of Atmospheric Black Metal. A galaxy full of dissonance that bores down on you with unspeakable force. A slightly sludgy brand of terrifying alloy with strange Post Black moments woven into their tune.
It reminded me a bit of the famed and now seriously defunct Dodecahedron. Only that here the production is somewhat mushier and not chiseled out as well as it should be. And why am I not surprised to find band members of Akhlys in the line-up, too? There you go, proof of the cosmic pudding.
And for all those normal metal travelers that venture on Monarch‘s weirdly harsh territory, brace yourselves. This type of Black Metal is all about raw, cosmic rage. Devilry and ancient rites are roundly ignored here. Instead, you get a primeval soup of soundbites that surf on those subdued rasps that relentlessly attack in the background. A gluttony of disconnected terrors that will ice your blood with their bitterly cold caress full of sharp edges.
Albeit that I would have preferred the desperate wailing by far less back in the mix. As things stand now, you get often excellent riffs, yet there isn’t enough ‘evil’ power in there to satisfy this customer completely. So, in essence, we lost a big part of a potential that somehow went missing in this broth of cosmic rays, galaxies, and a gazillion suns and planets.
I also deplore the somewhat wobbly midsection. Whilst Monarch of Dark Matter starts strong with the title track, some oversaturation kicks in by Caliginous Stellar Womb. It is as if the tight songwriting waned and replaced itself with the repetition bug. Yet gladly, metal honors are again available with the partly ambient Iron Empyreal Rain. And Frozen Moon Chaos managed to impress us with its astonishing groove. And yes, all that in the midst of a sick offering of decomposed metal.2)
Finally, Palus Somni reaches us from so far underground, we’re not sure if the sickly light we can shed on them will actually reach the bottom of this void. It is true, this kind of Cosmic Black Metal is an acquired taste. The rasps are so unintelligible and lost in the mix, I wonder why they even bother with them. However, Monarch of Dark Matter wields a mighty steely pull. A metal hammer that not even Thor himself possesses.
Monarch of Dark Matter smashes that gristly dissonance right into all those meaty riffs and atmospheric shenanigans that relentlessly attack your eardrums. This record really reaches down into that endless void where their creatures dwell. And their metal is scratchy, mean and so full of sickly grit you actually feel like showering after a few spins. Because if you don’t, your sorry ass might very well disintegrate into that primeval dust this record so loudly screams about.
And I guess, that means mission fucking accomplished. Some dark matter reached this reviewer’s steely behind, sent with a piece of Extreme Metal so deliciously out of the confines of ‘normal’ metal, we just could not resist.
Get some, if you dare.