Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Reader on Halloween

From the Chicago Reader:

There are at least a couple active bands called Monarch (which is why you sometimes see an exclamation point after this one's name), but if you like it sludgy and heavy, this four-piece from the south of France is the one you want. They've just issued the long-delayed CD version of their fifth full-length, Sabbat Noir (Heathen Skulls), which has already attracted a fair number of slavering reviews thanks to a beautiful but expensive vinyl release in April. Their first album with drummer Robert McManus, late of Melbourne's Grey Daturas, it consists of one half-hour song (split into two parts for the LP) that begins with a creepy insectoid whisper of electronic noise and feedback, then slams into a slo-mo nod fest—though the drums, which manage a few more impacts per minute than the rest of the band, beat you about the head and neck and make it impossible to relax too much. The uncanny wailing of vocalist Emilie Bresson is buried so deep in the mix that she sounds like a banshee you might hear in a nightmare on the edge of sleep—only to bolt awake and find she's still there. Her eerie keening and wheezing adds a skin-crawlingly ethereal dimension to the band's grainy, glacially churning murk, transforming its canyonlike spaces into haunted grottos. Indian headlines; Monarch and Rabid Rabbit open.—Monica Kendrick