Released: 2017, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
After issuing an EP in 2014 while they were still trying to firm up their ranks – and somehow finagling former Suffocation drummer Mike Smith into playing on it - Germany's Misanthrope Monarch return as a more fleshed out, solid band for their full length debut.
Now a quintet – with guitarist Kristian Gøbels and bassist Pat Fleischmann from the EP being joined by new frontman Chris Mieves, guitarist Richie Zubek and drummer Max Scheefeldt – the band straddle the fence between death and thrash metal. And despite the lofty sentiments of titles like “Regress to the Saturnine Chapter,” “Father Sin and the Hollow Spirit,” “Trail of the Heretic (Maleficium)” or “The Omega Embrace,” they keep things lean and mean here, introducing just enough drama into their bluster, but never going overboard – a common temptation for new bands looking to make their mark.
“Usurping The Throne” opens the album with straight up Kreator-like thrash with its clipped riffs and full-throttle velocity – and indeed features a guest solo from Kreator's Sami Yli-Sirniö, so another good get - and the band keep that momentum going pretty much the rest of the way. The album's 11 tracks whiz by in a brisk, efficient 36 minutes.
Mieves' vocals sound like a combination of Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg and Napalm Death's Barney Greenway, which is to say rough, gruff and forceful. So there is a certain inherent brutality throughout, even if the music can rarely be described in similar terms. It's aggressive and powerful, to be sure, but stops well short of sounding anything like, for instance, Suffocation, to make a convenient comparison.
Indeed, as with the aforementioned Amon Amarth, there is an undercurrent of melody and texture amid the gritty, gnashing riffs that power much of the album. And the instrumental “Black Sirens Lurking,” with its delicate acoustic intro and a wash of synth in the background as the song builds, and the more expansive and dramatic closer “Cosmic Maze” add character.
Regress to the Saturnine Chapter is solid, engaging and energetic debut. Misanthrope Monarch do what they do quite well and wisely keep their aspirations in check by not overplaying their hand. Best to leave that for when they've got some more seasoning and experience under their belts.