Amebix - Monolith ©1987 Heavy Metal Records
1. Monolith
2. Nobody's Driving
3. The Power Remains
4. Time Bomb
5. Last Will And Testament
6. I.C.B.M.
7. Chain Reaction
8. Fallen From Grace
9. Coming Home

Amebix is a band that took quite a while to grow on me. I had known about their importance in the crust and hardcore scenes, and had assumed they were another one of those aggressive Discharge-esque bands. Imagine my surprise, then, when I picked up their excellent Arise! full-length and instead of brutal, chaotic hardcore, my ears were subjected to an unholy mixture of Killing Joke, Motorhead, and Hellhammer/Celtic Frost that focused more on atmosphere than kicking your teeth in with blinding speed. The bleak, atmospheric, apocalyptic sound didn't quite click with me right away, but eventually the album became one of my favorites. After about a year of listening to it religiously, I recently picked up Monolith, their final full-length, and last official release before they disbanded. It basically picks up where the previous album left off, taking their unique musical vision even further.

It begins with a beautiful yet bleak melodic intro, complete with clean guitars, and droning, Killing Joke-esque synthesizers. It eventually bleeds into "Nobody's Driving", which sets the mood for the rest of the album. Most of the songs sound very similar to each other, but that just emphasizes the bleak, apocalyptic mood this album portrays. They manage to make it all work together as an album, from the aforementioned intro to the crushing, heavy, doomy crust of "Coming Home", as perfect an album closer as I've ever heard. They say Godspeed, You Black Emperor! is the soundtrack to "watching a city burn." Well, this is album is the soundtrack to watching the entire world burn to death, as mankind slowly destroys itself.

Musically, this is easily Amebix's most metal-oriented work. The listener is constantly assaulted with simplistic, chugging riffs and the Baron's excellent Lemmy/Cronos-esque vocals. Somehow, they manage to draw much of their influence from metal, while still remaining entirely punk rock in spirit. Occasionally, they'll break it up with clean guitars and synthesizers, which just proves how ahead of their time they were. Nowadays, such things are commonplace for doom metal and crust bands, but can you think of many (if any) other bands that were doing this in 1987? I know I can't.

I absolutely cannot recommend this enough. This is, in my opinion, the absolute best record to come out of the crust movement of the 80s. This album doesn't come recommended solely to crust fans, however. I'm sure most people involved in that scene have this already. Anyone into any sort of dark, apocalyptic music should appreciate this as well. Neurosis and Sepultura have both claimed to have been influenced by these boys, and I'm sure many of today's doom metal bands have taken some cues from them. Whether you're into metal, punk, hardcore, goth, or whatever else you can name, this record is worth checking out. Don't expect to fall in love with it at first, but given time, it just might become one of your favorites.

Review by Mark Pennington

Review date: 02/2003

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