It’s not often you find a band that can slither up from the shadows and form together to create a Progressive Black Metal movement as foreboding in sound and dynamic as Monochromatic Black. They began their journey together in 2018 before releasing their debut EP “Pneuma” in 2019 that was accompanied by extensive touring, and the coordinated release of various Music Videos. Continuing to ride this high throughout 2020, they began to write and record their follow-up album to be released in 2021. The result is Vicissitude.
With ear-scratching screeches dropping us into the album at ‘Sadist’, there is no subtleties in introduction to this band’s sound or impact. The chaotic mixture of forceful vocals and head-slamming drums take you for a ride. Guitars and Bass pull in synchronization before an eerie harmony envelope us, if only for a second, brought on by Tanya Elizabeth’s ghostly wails.
It’s as if we’ve taken to exploring some ancient ruins, where powerful words have been summoned from the cracked walls of a once sacred Temple; Spells and incantations were once whispered, bringing a sense of dread and horror to the land. The chants that once filled the frozen halls are once more ignited in a frightening collection of terrifying growls, and siren-like illusion commanded throughout the 40-minute length of this album.
Each track blends together almost seamlessly, with ‘Elation’ pulling in more clean vocals, with signature demonic growls noting each transition before once more lulling us away on some fog-laden pathway beyond. Hastened drums, commanded by Eddie DeCesare, elevate this track bringing a mixture of speed, and calm together in a strange but, perfect unison. There are fearsome drops, and powerful lifts that open our ears to more musical exploration with levels of musical combinations never thought possible.
‘Abaddon’ follows sequence, blending into the tail end of ‘Elation’ with dark drops and spine-tingling vocals. The mixture of clean and harsh, and how flawlessly they switch from one to another is almost the work of duel vocals but, is pulled off brilliantly by Tanya and her skill. Guitars are given more spotlight, with the efforts of both Dan Rivera and John Gribbon dropping in their own talent to display in a simple yet, well-executed centralized calm.
‘Cerulean’ is an absolute maelstrom of Death Metal and all its known for. Drumbeats echo off unseen walls, with guitars striking at us from every angle. Low bass performed by Arthur Erb keeps everything together while simultaneously watching it being torn apart. Vocals take a high level, as if they’re being screamed right in your face, mere inches away yet, still working in perfect time with the chaos of the instrumentals before turning into an old, classic 50’s-like tune to lead us away.
Following tracks like ‘Closing the Gates’, ‘Wall of Dissonance’ and ‘The Ritual’ meet us with the same level of intensity and ferocity as the others, dropping in from Cerulean’s light-hearted end with more rage than ever imagined. ‘Wall of Dissonance’ has a doom metal-vibe to it, to stand-out from the others before falling once more into the prog-metal sound we’ve become familiar with. It’s low and slow but, not without feral nature.
‘Met with Violence’ does as it says, greeting us with a swift punch to the face both vocally and musically. It’s slower than earlier tracks but, still holds the same malice, and darkness that brought us into this madness to begin with. Haunted halls surround us, with whispers from every angle feeding our mind lies and deception. We follow, mindlessly, with hallucinations commanding our every footstep. There is a power to this track, a light-hearted backing that seems ethereal in its sound but, its shadowed by the heaviness of the drums and high notes of the pulled chords. ‘Solstice’ follows it to the end, almost tied to this track itself by extension rather than stand alone as if it’s just another turn down a darkened hallway.
The final track, ‘Disillusioned’ wraps up the album with the same calamity that brought us in. There are epic highs, and horrifying lows that stretch into creepy cascades of beautifully executed clean vocals, and delicate piano notes. It’s as if the illusion is finally complete in formation, filling the dampened halls with the false glow of warm candlelight, and lively music. A sigh of relief to escape our lips, to see the end draw near, only to be pulled back by the decaying, clawed hand of a long-forgotten curse.
As our senses fade, and the world once more turns to black, we leave Vicissitude stunned and in awe. For an album lasting less than an hour, it still takes us on a lengthy, and frightful journey filled with ups and downs from the glory of a forgotten realm to the unseen horrors lurking in the shadows. It holds traditional Black Metal and Prog Metal vibes, while commanding an essence of traditional orchestration and symphony all its own in small but, brilliantly implemented breaks. If you’re looking for a solid album with your favourite Progressive Black Metal beats but, with small nods to uniqueness, check out Monochromatic Black’s Vicissitude – available now on all streaming services and for purchase on Bandcamp.
Release Date: November 26th, 2021
Rating: 7/10 Track Listing:
5.) Closing the Gates
6.) Wall of Dissonance
7.) The Ritual
8.) Met with Violence