The debut album from Sheffield doom/sludge quartet Blind Monarch is a dark, sprawling and malevolent tapestry that displays a talent and confidence that belies their years. Having toured with the likes of Bismuth and Kurokuma, Blind Monarch are beginning to make a name for themselves in their own right, and it’s not hard to see why based on the threateningly entitled What Is Imposed Must Be Endured.
Having been recorded in an abandoned warehouse in Hull during the winter of 2019, this has naturally lended the album a dark, unforgiving and organic sound. The subdued, eerie soundscapes that open the album’s first track, ‘Suffering Breathes My Name’, are disarmingly gentle and soon give way to gargantuan chords, thunderous drums and the guttural growls of vocalist Tom Blythe, who also switches easily in an instant to throaty screams that bring to mind Thou at their most evil. Similarly, debut single ‘My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb’ chugs along at a slow and malevolent pace. It’s a dark groove of a tune that also features some calmer passages; brief respites that serve to break up the unrelenting bleakness and showcase the band’s ability to weave subtlety into their sound. Indeed, what is most revealing when listening to this album is that it’s quite easy to forget that it is a debut, such is the talent and confidence of all four members.
The album closes with the simply mesmerising ‘Living Alter’. Not only does it feature some of the best, heaviest and filthiest riffs of the whole album, but it also begins with a three-minute-plus intro of gorgeous clean arpeggios and Gregorian-like chanting set to the melancholic sound of rain cascading down. This attention to detail really sets Blind Monarch apart from the crowd, and if a band can sound this assured on their debut then it really does suggest we have a lot more to look forward to from them.
What Is Imposed Must Be Endured is out now on Black Bow Records. Purchase here.
Words: Adam Pegg