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Monasterium – Cold Are The Graves Award winner

Monasterium
Cold Are The Graves
by Gary Hernandez at 20 August 2022, 12:32 PM

MONASTERIUM is an Epic Doom Metal quartet out of Poland. They formed in 2014 and have three full-length albums under their belt. The third, “Cold are the Graves,” was released in digipack on June 10, 2022 and is due out on vinyl in September, both via Nine Records. NWOBHM fans, Doom Metal fans, and anyone into any Swedish style metal are probably already familiar with this band. They are flat out fantastic. The amazing thing is that eight years in and their trajectory has never faltered. They continue to deliver consistently strong metal that never seems tired or old. Michał Strzelecki’s vocals have grown more powerful than ever, Tomasz Gurgul keeps finding incredible riffs and soaring solos, and the backbone of Filip Malinowski (bass) and Maciej Berniak (drums) has remained as constant as the northern star. And, shockingly, no lineup changes!

Thematically, “Cold Are The Grave” centers mostly on death, and not in a Death Metal glorification way, but rather with a more philosophical bent exploring a variety of perspectives. It starts even before you drop the needle on the first track, when you pick up the album cover and ponder its imagery—a simulacrum of a vagina washed in a dead, grey pallor discharging human skulls into a field of tombstones. The background, which at first suggest a scratching of pubics, is actually a forest of leafless trees. Life and death all bound in one. And maybe it’s this mysterious symbiotic relationship the listener is meant to mull as each track progresses, from the religiosity of the “The Stigmata” to the demonic evocations of “Seven Swords of Wayland” to the eldritch “Necronomicon” and concluding with the title track, “Cold are the Graves.”

Almost every one of the eight tracks that comprise the album deserve the label of ‘standout.’ My personal favorites are “Cimmeria,” “Seven Swords of Wayland,” and “Cold are the Graves.” The one track that still hasn’t grown on me is “Remembered,” an acoustic ballad that functions as a long interlude mid-album or probably the first track of side two of the LP. Amongst tracks that have an average runtime of six minutes, this three and half minute exception isn’t substantive enough to ruin the mix. And, of course, there will be plenty of people that cite it as their favorite track. In the track’s defense, I will say that the guitar work is spellbinding.

I would be remis if I didn’t acknowledge the additional punch this album gives considering the history of Poland as well as the recent events in neighboring countries. Poland has always opened its arms to oppressed peoples, lending aid and taking in those fleeing the terrors of war. Which is to say, the Polish people have a lived wisdom and understanding about the ravages of war and death. This comes through abundantly on this album, especially with tracks like “The Siege.”

There has been a veritable flood of great bands and albums coming out of Poland in the last many years. MONASTERIUM and “Cold are the Graves” maintain that torrent. An excellent album, this one, highly recommended to Doom and NWOBHM fans.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Stigmatic
2. Cimmeria
3. The Great Plague
4. Seven Swords Of Wayland
5. Remembered
6. The Siege
7. Necronomicon
8. Cold Are The Graves
Lineup:
Michał Strzelecki – Vocals
Tomasz Gurgul – Guitars
Filip Malinowski – Bass
Maciej Berniak – Drums
Record Label: Nine Records
     


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