REVIEW: Monasteries – Pulmonary Failure [EP/2018]

Artist: Monasteries

Album: Pulmonary Failure – EP

As a third year medical student, I get tasked with a lot of
“odd jobs,” ranging from the reasonable to the irrational. Some—are much more
the former, like reading up on disease process X or Y and presenting it the
following day to a group of people who already know all about it—they just want to make sure I did my homework, so
to speak. At this point I’ve presented on autoimmune demyelinating syndromes,
opiate pharmacology, more ass and anal canal pathology than I care to list, and
the list goes on—so, when I thought I would be addressing Pulmonary Failure as a third year medical student, I definitely
didn’t think I would be doing so in a review for a tremendously talented
British Deathcore project.

But here I am.

Pulmonary Failure
is as insidious and crushing as its name might imply. Monasteries—who have
remained fairly silent in the years since their debut effort—are back with what
stands to send 2018 out with a real bang.
Laden with blistering breakdowns, insane leads and sections of brutality that
defy verbal description, Pulmonary
might have what it takes to upset quite a few deathcore fanatic
album-of-the-year-lists just as the people writing them think they have it all
figured out.

Instrumentally, Monasteries build upwards and outwards from
a platform of pure deathcore (not to be confused with the defunct promotional
service which is notably less cool). Songs like “Oxygen Debt” and “Force-Fed
Apathy” are among the most straightforward, with percussionist Daniel Hill
setting the pace for the tracks as bassist Sam Mitchell follows, adding heft
and density to every monstrous breakdown and punishing groove. Then, there is
“Baphomet Eyes,” the album’s raunchy, ear-grabbing opener. “Baphomet Eyes”
stands as the EP’s truly stellar instrumental cut—with guitarists Aaron Wright
and Ben Standley going absolutely insane from start to end. On one hand, the
song remains thick and heavy—a dripping, still-kicking slab of meat—but with
technical flair that stands to appeal to fans of deathcore’s more extreme
reaches. Standley and Wright go out of their way to add panache to “Baphomet
Eyes,” and by extension, Pulmonary
, early on—so when it strikes again, the listener is accustomed to
it. The EP goes on like this—balancing moments of tightly-knit technical
expertise with straight-up belligerent brutality, striding a fine line until
the closing minutes of “Black Mass,” where it all goes to Hell. I can’t pretend
to have listened to everything that came out in 2018 (although I like to think
I gave it a good shot), but you could very easily convince me that the closing
seconds of “Black Mass” are among the most insanely heavy things to have come
out this year. With a guitar tone that practically drowns the listener in
sludge and drumming that is slow and trudging like a mammoth’s gait, “Black
Mass” is the way to bring this beast
of a release to a close.

Just as Pulmonary
is a monstrous instrumental undertaking, it sees Monasteries
welcoming new frontman Josh Davies into the fold. With big boots to fill and an
impressive instrumental backdrop to live up to, Davies’ deck was stacked
against him, in a sense, to deliver—but boy, he delivered. Davies’ work throughout Pulmonary Failure is nothing short of breathtaking (probably
literally, in his case, given some parts of “Black Mass.”) Many of the
cuts—well, really all of them—see Davies’ vocals hitting an absurd variety of
styles and depths, with grisly lows abundant on “Black Mass” and “Baphomet
Eyes” in combination with the harsh mid-range yells and high-pitched shrieks
that make “Force-Fed Apathy” a vocal stand-out. While, in some respects,
Monasteries don’t necessarily see themselves separating from the pack where
lyrics and lyrical themes are concerned, there is a pleasantly nostalgic,
2008-2010 vibe to many of the lines throughout Pulmonary Failure (see, again, “Force-Fed Apathy”) which give it
appeal to those more inaugurated into the genre’s nuances and history.
Otherwise, it is a lyrically solid outing with otherwise superb vocal work that
gives it a razor-sharp edge to cut through a great bulk of the band’s

Pulmonary Failure
isn’t the lecture on end-stage COPD or genetic anti-trypsin deficiency I would
have expected to follow such a title—but it’s just as interesting (to me) and
much more interesting (to literally everyone else), not to mention ten thousand
times heavier. With groove, aggression, shred and brutality all weighing in
with equal parts, Pulmonary Failure
is a devastating deathcore release that demands attention before those year-end
lists are wrapped up.


For Fans Of: Oceano, Job For a Cowboy (Doom), Bound in Fear, Distant, Drifted

By: Connor Welsh