01. Abhorrence Vs. Scum
02. Clouds Above The Desert
03. The Whisperer In The Dark
04. Monument In Black
05. A Doctrine Unreachable
06. Daily Nightmare Injected
07. Soul Flagellation
Sticking to the status quo isn’t always a bad thing. Sure, listening to releases that strive to stick out from the pack by shining new lights on certain genres are refreshing and reassure us that innovation is still out there, but sometimes our ears also need to listen to something that’s familiar and is cognizant of its roots. Monument In Black, the second full length album from two-man German black metal act Sonic Reign fulfills this need. It’s been seven years since Sonic Reign’s full length debut Raw Dark Pure, but with this new album they show they haven’t lost their aggressive black metal chops. The track list admittedly suffers from a lack of variety in its overall sound, but rest assured that Monument In Black is, at the very least, worth a listen or two.
Considering this album follows the path of traditional black metal such as Satyricon, Darkthrone, and Emperor, there are stylistic influences that will almost immediately come to mind. While harnessing a rather clean production sound, Sonic Reign still manage to keep the evil and dirty black metal aesthetic in-tact on Monument In Black. The guitar work in particular is what ultimately stands out on this album; while the guitars keep the same distorted black-metally sort of tone throughout the whole album, elements of thrash are infused into the rhythms and some nice solos are sprinkled here and there to vary things up. On another positive note, there seemed to be at least one memorable riff per track. The first two, “Abhorrence Vs. Scum” and “Clouds Above The Desert,” along with “A Doctrine Unreachable” are the best examples of bringing this unforgettable riffage that are sure to induce a good headbang or two.
While the guitars are commendable on Monument In Black, nothing else steps up to the plate in quite the same way, and resultantly makes the album sound a little too un-varied overall. As mentioned before, the guitars kept the same tone but also brought variations on rhythm and solos to the table, while the vocals and drums didn’t bring anything extra beyond their base roles. Tracks would be almost impossible to tell apart if you were solely focusing in on the vocals. The same throaty voice growls at a consistent pitch throughout this album. The drums don’t do much to stand out either. They’re certainly not bad by any means, but not as good as they needed to be to support the guitars; it felt like the beats could use a little extra push to truly accentuate the rhythms for which Sonic Reign seemed to be going.
While it does have its shortcomings, Monument In Black is a record that does deserve a few play-throughs. It brings that unapologetic and unforgiving nature that you would hope to hear from black metal, but with clean production. The album falls short by sounding too similar overall; no tracks will really stand out, save for maybe two. The guitar riffs and solos, however, do stand out and will certainly hook you into another worthwhile listen. If you’re in the mood for some good ole’ black metal and aren’t expecting anything groundbreaking, this latest offering from Sonic Reign is just what you ordered.