By Earthdog

French doomsters Monolithe are back and if you have followed this band from their inception it will come as no surprise that the album is called 'Monolithe III' and consists of one epic long track. What is immediate about this band and album is they don't follow any blueprint of doom. They are equal parts funeral, death, ambient, industrial and drone but without fitting into any one sub-genre. Like earlier albums, the band doesn't torment the listener with drawn-out intros and passages a-la Sleep's 'Dopesmoker' but it is equally as uncompromising. 'III' is a mostly complex 52 minute piece which plays like another chapter in their catalog of albums. That is not to say that this is just more of the same, far from it but if you are already a listener of the band, you will know what to expect.

The piece deals with a complex reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses so the album is not exactly instantly memorable but at the same time, this gives it some serious longevity. However,  you will have to work hard at it to fully get what this album is all about. Musically it can be tedious despite its variations. There are many times during my spins of this album where I found myself lost within its complexities and while I am no stranger to complex music (I have been listening to prog rock and jazz fusion since I was 12) this album does tend to make my mind go elsewhere. Perhaps what gets a little confusing is the mood changes that happen often, almost too often in-fact so the flow of the album can seem disjointed. However there are moments of pure brilliance on the album.

The music goes from the melodic to the extreme and while the melodies can be quite nice at times, they often turn ugly and downright scary. Vocals which seem to be situated somewhere beneath the earth's surface don't make the concepts behind the album any easier to understand either. The album is dramatic but it mostly comes to down the exhausting running time of the piece which is the release's biggest problem. Out of the 52 minutes, there are at least 20 minutes where the music seems far too meandering. At the root of the album are dissonant and churning almost psychedelic riffing that is far from doing anything catchy and there are fine piano lines and some nice ambient sections but again, it all comes across as being a bit awkward.

'III' is a ambitious release and their approach to constructing epic doom pieces has to be admired for its sheer monster-like concepts but along the way something gets lost. It is hard to pinpoint what is missing with this album but I get the feeling, this could have been so much better. As it is, it is solid but also not too memorable as a piece of music.....7/10.