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Monasterium - Church of Bones

Church of Bones
by Sean McGuirk at 06 June 2019, 1:38 AM

Poland’s MONASTERIUM have been at it since 2014, playing an epic style of Doom Metal that even a Metal novice might note is scarily similar to CANDLEMASS in many ways. Vocalist Michal Strzelecki emotes with a gothic operatic strain and mountains of Messiah-esque vibrato. The riffing is heavy and melodic with the stomping rhythm that is that legendary Swedish group’s signature. While CANDLEMASS has changed their sound somewhat to stay on a semi-mainstream level, MONASTERIUM keeps it real, in a true Traditional Doom sense, on “Church of Bones”, their sophomore effort.

The title track opens up the eight song set, it’s a fine doomy progression, one that seems familiar but is no less powerful. Strzelecki’s vocals are way up in the mix, even more so than their self-titled debut, where the mix felt a tad more organic than it does here. His vocals are jarring at first, almost too earnest and emotive, but they grow on you as the disc moves along. “La Danse Macabre” is a strong up-tempo track, one that reminds heavily of “Witches” off CANDLEMASS’ great 2005 self-titled disc. “Liber Loagaeth”, then transports us back to the classic “Epicus Doomicus” with an impassioned moonlit ballad. It’s a tad clumsy, but “Ferrier Of The Underworld” gets us back into an A+ doom groove that’s punctuated by a sparkling solo section. Tomasz Gurgul is fantastic throughout, with some impressive finger-tapped solo heroics and acoustic passages. “Embrace The Void” is a downtempo masterpiece with an epic chorus, while “The Order of the Dragon”, is more upbeat, revolving around a nifty tribal rhythm.

A band that MONASTERIUM has no doubt taken influence from is Malta’s FORSAKEN. That band’s legendary vocalist Leo Stivala appears on this disc on “The Last Templar”, a track that has grand aspirations, but ultimately feels disconnected as it moves from one passage to the next. Stivala’s appearance also puts Strzelecki’s shortcomings in tone and delivery into sharp relief when they are put next each other.

“Last Templar” might also be the one track that sounds least like CANDLEMASS, with its historical subject, use of suspended chords and a fleshed-out guitar tone. Perhaps this is a good sign moving forward. In the end, as a follow-up to their buzzy debut, “Church of Bones” delivers more of the same, but with an added clarity and few minor variations that keeps them toward the head of the traditional Doom wave without putting them over.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Church of Bones
2. La Danse Macabre
3. Liber Loagaeth
4. Ferrier Of The Underworld
5. Embrace The Void
6. The Order Of The Dragon
7. Sleeping With The Dead
8. The Last Templar
Michał Strzelecki - Vocals
Tomasz Gurgul – Guitars
Filip Malinowski - Bass
Maciej Berniak - Drums
Record Label: Nine Records


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Edited 07 December 2022

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