REVIEW: Monolith – No Saints, No Solace [2020]

Artist: Monolith

Album: No Saints, No Solace

            I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “monolith,” the first thing that comes to mind isn’t really even a thing at all—it’s a quality, and it’s big. To me, something “monolithic” has always had the implication of it being…well, massive. Something jaw-dropping, mind-boggling and absolutely monstrous. Like the “immovable object” in the “unstoppable force versus immovable object” paradigm. Now, whether that’s true to the definition or not isn’t really the point (it isn’t, although it is somewhat implied)—because when I first listened to the debut (and long-awaited) full-length record by doom-laden, groove-smothered metal act Monolith, the first thing that hit me was that damn, this record is huge. No Saints, No Solace is a remarkable, ruthless example of mastery over all things heavy. From sludgy, gloomy leads to monstrous grooves and murderous breakdowns, No Saints, No Solace has just about everything any fan of extreme music could desire. Drawing clear influence from black, doom and sludge metallic subsects and infusing it with a hefty kick of heavy-handed hardcore and metalcore, Monolith have brought the listener one of the most comprehensively abusive listening experiences since Black Tongue’s Nadir. And while this release is closing in on a decade in the waiting, the honest truth is that the wait was worth every second.

            No Saints, No Solace is a remarkable and ruthless effort that combines the energy and power of a groove metal record with the stopping power of contemporary deathcore and the atmosphere and gloom of straight up doom metal. Monolith have given rise to a record that is, for lack of a better term, girthy. From the beginning of “TRTQ,” the band quickly establish their goal is the creation of a sound so colossal it borders on uncomfortable. Boasting booming percussion that confidently oscillates between blitzing energy and bold, smoldering and sludgy candors, “Nightmarcher” and “Enslave” highlight pure percussive prowess, while the series of “Atonement” tracks see the band’s drumming blending brilliantly with a writhing, raunchy bass to bolster a burdensome low end that coils around the listener’s head like a noose. These elements—the drumming and the bass—are the infrastructure for the immensity that Monolith have magnificently divined; but it only becomes more gargantuan with consideration of the band’s low, loathesome guitars. “Funerary” and “Mortal Sin” see the band’s fretwork at its apex, blending elements of black and doom metal into a backbone of groove-heavy deathcore. Somewhere between the likes of A Life Once Lost, Black Tongue and A Plea for Purging, the band combine elements of contemporary, -core heavy influence with more metallic undertones to give something that isn’t quite “deathcore,” but defies straightforward genre classification. In short its—you guessed it—just huge, creating tracks that take swings at the listener like a series of sledgehammers with each bashing the listener’s head just a little harder than the one before.

            Vocally, Monolith stay true to their dynamic forcing on sheer oppressive size. “Self Slaughter” is one such example, as are “Mortal Sin” and “Enslave,” where Black Tongue’s own Alex Teyen lends his chords to the fray. Where there isn’t inherently a tremendous amount of vocal range, the raw, immolating intensity plays beautifully into the constant aggressive barrage the band’s instrumentation provides. The “Atonement” series of songs see this blossom over nearly 14 minutes of grating, grisly power. Monolith’s vocals remain as capacious as their crushing display of metallic mass, sacrificing technicality and diversity for the sake of an immersive and ignorant bombardment of brutality that—as mentioned previously—just isn’t like much else out there.

            Monolith’s debut full length record is a masterful display of mammoth metallic mastery, crushing the listener under a cavalcade of cunning, colossal, creative aggression. Using every groove, chug and riff at their disposal, No Saints, No Solace is a record not for the faint of heart—as its near-hour run time with little reprieve is enough to leave even the inundated metalhead blitzed at first listen. However, digging deeper and diving headfirst into Monolith’s masterwork, one will find one of the grooviest, raw and most primal displays of intelligently, painstaking crafted metal 2020 has offered to date,


For Fans Of: Black Tongue, A Life Once Lost, Animosity, A Plea for Purging

By: Connor Welsh