posted on 2/2008 By:
From the band's website:
"First and foremost, we play this music in hopes that the positivity of Christ's message of redemption and love will supercede the needless negativity and hate that pervades the mindset of the world today. Our music is also an expression of the different facets of living a life for Christ, trying to paint a realistic picture from the dark side of the struggles and tribulations, to the lighter side of the triumph over sin and over self. We hope the music will speak to people on some level."
You know, I was seriously considering not mentioning the fact that Monotheist is a Christian death metal band, but they wear their faith fairly blatantly on their sleeves (despite not really being able to understand their lyrics), so the Christian kitty would've been out of the bag the second you visited their website anyway. But now that everyone's spotted the elephant in the room, those who consider themselves pernicious pontiffs can get back to profane ponderings and the rest of us can get down to the business at hand.
Monotheist is primarily the brainchild of young Mike "The Prophet" Javier, who recorded all the instrumentation on Unforsaken, including what sounds like some fairly genuine artificial drums. Folks, I've said this before and I'll say it again, it's a sheer pleasure to have high quality demos come across the desk of a dusty ol' reviewer, and this record is definitely such a case. This is a very well executed inaugural voyage for such a young band on a limited budget.
The most obvious alliances here can be drawn towards a core of decidedly U.S./Canadian styled 90's death metal enshrouded in a cozy blanket of Opeth. From one moment to the next, we hear distinct smidges of influence from bands such as Gorguts, Morbid Angel (the halfway point of "Unforsaken"...oh yeah) and Malevolent Creation, et al., but nearly every song bends into a passage that's very indicative of a guy who's spent a great deal of time consuming all the works of Opeth. The impressive song lengths are proof enough of this, as four of the seven tracks presented bridge between ten and fifteen minutes. But despite the album's impressive length, at no time did I find a transition awkward or jarring, and I never found myself bored or in need of skipping forward -- sound evidence of this fellow's ability to craft captivating metal tunes.
But it ain't just the big O. and various other death metal influences afoot; Unforsaken flashes plenty of other metal clout as well. We hear evidence of straight-up thrash (the beginning of "Blood for Blood", for example) and ballsy black metal flailing (the midpoint of "Enraptured") peppered between the quiet corridors and guttural bellowings. And the epic instrumental "Morning Star" sounds more like a battle hymn plucked directly from the latest DoomSword record. In short, Javier's unafraid to pull all kinds of tricks from his sleeve, but everything's cozily swirled within the Opethian tendrils that imbue the whole of this solid debut.
Some might point an accusatory finger towards the rather incomplex, hoarse vocals found throughout Unforsaken, but I actually think they fit rather nicely. Jake Rice has a very "classic" death metal grunt that not only further roots this demo in the days of yore, but they provide a perfect contrast to the many quieter moments that effectively spotlight the truly graceful lead guitar work and the very sparse use of clean atmospheric female vocals on the longer cuts. In addition, I find it refreshing as hell not to be confronted by bree'ing swine and general microphone eaters for a change.
Honestly, there's not too much criticism I can shoot this young band's way. Some passages sound a bit too much like Opeth at times, but that's certainly a forgivable offense for an initial endeavor. I'd like to see a little more brutality, and obviously some real drums and better production, but apart from that, I'd say Monotheist is definitely headed down a compelling path. Just keep moving forward, let your own style develop further, and don't let people who mock your choice of faith stand in your way. I hope to hear more from these guys in the near future. Until then, add another notch in the win column for Unforsaken.
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