Monomaniac – Vol. 1 | Vol. 2 + 3 — EP / LP REVIEW


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Panos Agoros, voice of the unmatched astrogrinders Dephosphorus, had his hand in the compiling of minute-or-less song-crafting by a broad collection of tormentors in the underground metal hordes.

His compilation series released though Blast Beat Mailmurder/Productions is titled Monomaniac and has currently stepped into it’s second and third volume.

As stated, Monomaniac is “a bold discographic operation uniting international artists from all over the spectrum of extreme underground music… the challenge is that each unit offers approximately one minute of exclusive/unreleased noise!

An interesting challenge to say the least, especially when reviewing the varied roster of bands on all three volumes; some well know to me and others this series is introducing me to.

IMG_7321Admittedly I’m late writing something on this and that’s no excuse for me or others to neglect an interesting and varied project. I was asked to share my thoughts and spread the word on this series, specifically the recently released Monomaniac Vol. 2/3 which is housed in some nice art and wax.

Volume 2/3 compliment as well as build on the success of the previous volume with more to rake through then one might expect. I’m going to handle both volume one which was co-compiled with Andrew Childers in 7″ form but first the new one. There’s nineteen tracks from nineteen bands here including:

  • Skulshitter
  • Witchrist
  • Progress of Inhumanity
  • Haapoja
  • Ravencult
  • Burial Hordes
  • Dodsferd
  • Dephosphorus
  • Necrosadist
  • WAKE
  • End
  • Omega Monolith
  • Weregoat
  • Monomakh
  • Gods of Chaos
  • Nadiwrath
  • Mutant Supremacy
  • Black Hole of Calcutta

Quite a stacked line-up, again prior to having gone over this series I knew very little about some of the participant. They have a strong presence here and a few turned me, among some of the relatively more known groups which continued to impress. The core group here is of Greek origin and a diverse sample at that.

Of those known to me I was particularly interested in here Haapoja’s and Dephosphorus’ new tracks, while WAKE, Gods of Chaos, Weregoat and Witchrist are also in that group to a lesser degree; the first in that line having already pumped out a wicked LP and split 7″ this year I’m still enjoying.

I’ll get more into those I was less familiar with later. Let’s get into it then.

IMG_7395The mighty Witchrist open this vortex of a compilation. An appropriate position for them though as a bestial death metal band they are reluctant to keep shit to under a minute and go for just under two here; not that I’m complaining or that the rules ever apply too strictly.

The opening pounding riff on “Transmuting Rituals of the Absolute” should give you cause to stay any complaints, and if not the slaughter of strings directly afterwards as the track rises to a boil will. Ending as it began in a slow fade and staggered roars Volume 2/3 is off to a terrific start

MONOMAKH had a demo out last year that I missed out on like an asshole despite plenty of promotion, and aside form the single track here an EP out this year too which I’m still familiarizing myself with. I do know that a while back I heard this guy’s side project Cyclonus which is some sick death metal, while I haven’t heard the other project he’s involved in known as Altars; though I am aware of their recent album.

So anyway “Menstruous” is the way I’ve been properly introduced to them in their one minute dissonant and cavernous death metal blitz. It’s very dark and hectic, battering rusted riffs and rancid atmosphere with a distinct old-school black-thrash attack, and I suspect this is a much more condensed dose of their toxic style. I’ll be pushing harder to try and sit down with the rest of their material.

Skulshitter dives immediately into a deathgrind assault with “Rotten Ways”, the progression is fast paced and switches course multiple times. From crusty hardcore runs and then more spoiled writhing, near the end throwing in some choice pinched harmonics from the brutal death camp between ugly cries.

Nocturnal Vomit switch the pace to a slow and very oldschool death metal crawl  on “Typhoisis”, drawing forth old gods from dry crypts. NADIWRATH then take it from the slow to the charged hate of “A Living Disgrace” and all it’s blackened haste. They share members with another band who appears here, both hailing from Dephosphorus’ home turf.

Opening on a nuke siren for good measure everything ignites thereafter, the bass easily keeps pace with the guitar as it clearly glides on the electrified siege laid out by the guitars. And then End continue the Greek strike with “Hate Fuelled Life” wiping away the grind with a pummeling, screeching black metal raid.

IMG_7326Now I mentioned Haapoja as being one of the contributors here I’m really interested in, and in fact their track “Yhtä Ja Samaa” might be this Finnish quartet’s best yet even taking into consideration their very new record (which I’m hooked on).

Their penchant for tangled and twangy grooves is condensed and maximized here, the first half is all aggression and then right at 25 seconds in the new addition to the mix and appears at the end brings the song to a fever for only a brief moment. Incredibly cathartic progression, scratching lashing vocals jumping in and out of the hammering

This one fucks up the play through of the compilation for me because I have to play it like five times in a row every time I make a pass, it’s 51 seconds that are just too good. Even surpassing the next one which I was also looking forward to.

That would be Dephosphorus and the track “Unknown To Thee” — the first track I with the new drummer John Votsis I believe who has had his hand in many areas of the Greek underground. This track isn’t as astral-bent as some material on Night Sky Transform or Axiom which really doesn’t do much damage to how tasty it is. The lyrics formed from Alexander Pope’s “An Essay On Man” which certainly fall well within what the band encircles with it’s words, as harshly purveyed from the throat of Panos:

All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see
All discord, harmony not understood,
All partial evil, universal good.

At just over a minute it is far more gruff or stripped, two broad but quick segments that take worn and torn hardcore and reinvigorates it through the expanded consciousness that Dephosphorus provide. It reminds me of their split with WAKE actually.

Omega Monolith usually engage in doom variations but here they buttress their Greek brethren with the track “Fragment(ed)”, a clean and syncopated instrumental that gains some distotion right at the end and plunges headlong into a swirling finish.

IMG_7397While not familiar with Black Hole of Calcutta I’ve definitely bumped into them in my time listening to metal, and I know they bend themselves over the genre spectrum. They crack open the second side of the LP, and these Californians contribute a mangled blackened crust heap in the form of “Hierophant”. It’s fast and threatening, only dipping into the hardcore/crust for a few seconds while choosing to use discord to exit

Now we get to a band from the cold plains of Canada, closer to home and some furious grindcore that is unleashed by WAKE. “Hate Hoarder” is a great track, simple though punishing at first  with a bass solo intro, sounding a bit like Bridgeburner. After a pause gets a little more complex and frankly a bit black metal-ly right in the last 15 seconds. Before that the frantic nature takes up the track and it’s more rapacious than some of their recent material.

IMG_7330Progress of Inhumanity doesn’t allow for a pause  using “Immoral Immortals” as a 52 second blistering eraser of old-school death thrash, reviving nicely like Rehashed, followed by an unexpected entry by Croatia’s Gods of Chaos.

I know the vocalist from a distance and reviewed their psyche-fracturing debut March Into Perdition — the shard of shrapnel they leave here is titled “Crush The Skulls Of All Fucking Posers” so if you didn’t know, now you know. I don’t know what you’re expecting but if it’s intoxicated, prickly aggression splattered harder and more concentrated than in the self-titled. Grating and agitated.

Back to the US for the next track by Mutant Supremacy “Mucopurulence Excretor” which steps over the one minute mark with a significantly more dirty bestial death orgy. Brutality and death can only be constrained so much and that clearly is the case here: crippling drumming, murky and scrambling riffs.

Tracks seven and eight provide a dual shot of Greek firepower via new material from Ravencult and Burial Hordes. The former brings the thin tremolo, Absu blackened-thrash attack from their decade plus history of shredding while Burial Hordes overwhelm with a slightly eerie mauling, finding time to bring a speck of ambiance in the midpoint.

Approaching the final stretch another familiar evil force is met. The rising Weregoat use Monomaniac to spread the diseased occult in “By Light Of Moon”, clattering drums and sharp, drowned churning riffs disappear beneath a horror storm largely from the ungraspable vocals.

Likewise I’ve encountered Dodsferd — they’re very active and been rushing stages for a good time now — but I’ve never been much deeper than curiosity from a far when it comes to their catalog. “Disposable Human Wastes” might change that. The track is much more melodic the the previous three entries and covers the their slot in this compilation with mist, bringing out some tremendous frosty, galloping melodies mutated from the slow procession.

It’s quickly noticeable and pleasing. This one surprised me, I’m compelled to take a closer look at their work. It’s a killer song and would fit well on a record, paced tighter than nornmal for the style they seem to have and made more anxious by the excellent percussion and strong vocals.

The last thrust for the newest volumes of Monomaniac is from Necrosadist. It’s quite the closer. “Key of the Abyss” brings the fright and malformed DNA of Aevangelist ancestors into a slightly quicker, filthier form at least on this track. The bass stomping is significant and the whole thing has a chew-up-everything crunch covering it, making the furious sliding and blasting that makes up the majority final two-thirds slightly more chaotic.

IMG_7335Now to do some backtracking. Having now run through the first volume a decent number of times I’m enjoying it just as much as the newer entry for different reasons. The difference obviously stems from the new shades left by a different grouping of artists, just as imposing and diverse while bringing different weapons to the skirmish.

No denying they’ve been making waves recently with Moksha, Cloud Rat proudly get things speeding forth with “Finger Print V1” that hazily chainsaws apart their minute voraciously. The track is phenomenal, if you’re into them for Moksha I don’t see why you wouldn’t like this as much if not more; that fucking ending.

Much like Haapoja’s entry in the newer volume it feels like Cloud Rat put something very special into their donation to this little compilation, even outdoing their full works.

Then you have the bitter and bizarre THEDOWNGOING who are among (then future) split-mates DETROIT. THEDOWNGOING commit with three quick under twenty second tracks: Littered”, “Floorboards”, and “Hibakusha (Reprise)”. A succession of nerve-flaying  intradimensional grind segments which they curate very well. Slow on the intro seconds everything after that is furious, scorching and noisy.

Aforementioned Canadians DETROIT lay “Birthday Party” down in the only way they can even with the rotation of members: brutal, calculating and raw. Vocals way put front with a bunch of chunky bits sprinkled about. Grinding violence in thirty-four seconds. Not as enticing as their recent efforts but fitting.

I admittedly am not familiar at all outside of word-of-mouth on the web concerning Set Star Sept but their bleak and short incursion into this side of the comp is harsh, really harsh. Twenty-four seconds and it’s done, you barely have time to understand the rhythm they set in.

Next up is a cyber-mincing by Body Hammer, like Fuck… I’m Dead by way of Genghis Tron bulldozing and blasting ridiculously. The difference is the spacy interlude and outro. This one’s evened out immediately by the immaculate aural dissection by Head Cleaner, more traditional in it’s death metal throes with pointed and direct riffs. Sounding a both oldschool Bolt Thrower and a bit synthetic like Tristwood.

IMG_7338Side B’s gates open to reveal a well known and unforgiving beast: Diocletian. Their song “Traitor’s Gallow” is unruly, merciless with mounds of filth. Wrapped in a thick stench, from the first riff there’s no fucking about. The grit mounts as the apocalyptic darkness closes in and there’s a big bass presence too.

I wouldn’t expect a ‘super-duo’ black metal band to stake some time out on a 7″ like this but The Howling Wind do just that, and exceed. “Bewilderment” is an instrumental and the longest offering at almost a minute and a half, quickly snaking it’s way over a raw backing off solos, windy and screaming.

And again a group comprised of some lauded artists, Sempiternal Dusk, doubles down with their own brand of sickly death metal: “Beneath the Emblems of Death” wreaks certain doom for a solid minute, not as barbarous as Diocletian but the reek comes from a corpse in the same muck.

It seems the closing spot here is occupied by a nuanced and well situated figure in the Greek scene, but I know little of his work. One man project This Is Past dabbles in psychedelia and black metal which is pretty clear if this is the only thing you’ve heard: a bit off-kilter melodic and paranoid, instrumental and abrupt.

If you want to play the ‘which do you prefer’ game the Haapoja track on the new one seals it for me, but it’s pretty close due to Cloud Rat, as well as DETROIT’s brief run on the first one. The monster Diocletian track should be noted too. The length of either volume may be a deciding factor for some (ten minutes vs. twenty-two).

But that is what’s pretty sweet about a compilation project like this. The varied work these guys do on their own and the new material submitted here allows for enjoyment in each installment for different reasons, and there’s no disappointments on the quality end of things.

There is a significant amount to explore here and the constraints help bring something out of certain bands in each volume worthy of spending the time here to imbibe.

All three volumes come in some nice packaging and art courtesy of Viral Graphics through Blast Beat Mailmurder / Productions.

Volume two and three are carved on a 12″ black disc with an extrapolation from the first volume’s artwork for the cover. The reverse of the jacket continues the urban-decay cyber-punk style to the credits and track listing layout, matching the stark white cover; much like the first volume but inverse. Speaking of it too has a similar theme but pressed on a 7″ instead, black and grey.

IMG_7325I think the only criticism of the packaging for either record is there’s no lyrics sheet. I can see that bothering some people.

You would be correct in suspecting I think those reading should support this project. It’s unique and with every entry there’s new and more potential, arranged by hard working hands in the underground between friends and resulting in some genuinely excellent metal and grind.

The Monomaniac series is an easy recommendation, even for those who aren’t familiar I suggest picking up a copy of the new volume on bandcamp at least. The excellent vinyl package is, as you can see, well worth it as well. You can get it bundled with the first volume too which is nice if you dig getting completely up to date on stuff.

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