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MONARCH ‘Sabbat Noir’ Album Review + Exclusive Stream

Monarch has been one of the most extreme metal acts to spawn in the doom metal scene of the ‘00s. This French band produced a disgusting brew of doom/sludge/drone, forging their sound in the teachings of some of the more interesting heavy acts around the globe. The nihilistic view of Corrupted met with the drone explorations of Khanate and the alchemical drone/doom of Burning Witch to produce an absolutely relentless end result.

Through the years the band has been on an onslaught of heavy drone/doom, starting from their excellent self-titled debut record and their Speak of the Sea sophomore release. Monarch continued to explore this dark corner of doom for all its existence, reaching a peak recently with their two releases through Profound Lore in Sabbracadever and Never Forever. However, during the band’s prolific output, some chapters of their discography did not receive the necessary attention. One of those instances is Sabbat Noir, originally released through Hidden Skull Records in 2010, which has since become a very hard to find release. Thankfully Zanjeer Zani Productions / Necrocosm Productions is resurrecting this lost piece of the band’s history, pressing the 30-minute long in all its glory.

Pre-order Sabbat Noir right HERE!

Monarch has always been excellent at crafting ambient spaces, and the start of Sabbat Noir is no different. The distinct ominous tone comes in to haunt the soundscapes straight away, while the menacing feedback rears its ugly head and makes a push forward building an asphyxiating space. Feedback can take on multiple forms and transmit various feeling, but with the first half of Sabbat Noir it feels like there is only one gear and one end goal for the feedback, and that is for it to take a completely inhumane and torturing form. The first part of the track sees this approach to a devastating end, but when the second part of Sabbat Noir is introduced, the feedback takes on a more ethereal form. Still devastating and heavy as fuck, but there is something more depressive and melancholic that provides an interesting twist.

What follows the feedback is the slow, glacial pace that Monarch has been known for. The first part of the track sees the band produce a rhythm-less ritualistic overture. The sparse drum hits and the distorted guitar strums drench this procedure in total darkness, making use of drone/doom motifs and the constant, impressive feedback to build this dark monument. What is impressive through this trip is that there is no notion of catharsis or any relief from the relentless progression. The band creates a torturous procession, endlessly setting up the track while the shrieking vocals sound like distant howls in the background. Buried a bit further down the mix, the delivery of Emilie Bresson adds to the constant element of desperation of Sabbat Noir, yelling through the thick veil of riffs.


Still, the second part of Sabbat Noir sees the devastating approach mutate into something with a more distinct form. The heavy drone/doom riffs are still there, the glacial pace has not faltered and the feedback is still echoing through the amps, but there is a more distinct influence. The eerie ambiance has allowed for a more solid, Sabbath-ian quality to spawn through, with the guitars taking on old-school doom metal characteristics. There is more conviction when it comes to the progression of the second part, and even though there is still sparsity between moments, there is a more distinct sense of pacing and rhythm, which makes the full weight of Monarch that much more apparent.

Sabbat Noir is a strong specimen of the capabilities of Monarch, and is easily one of the more brutal parts of the band’s discography. Dive into its dark world and you will experience the band’s devastating manifestation at full strength.

Written By

Sound engineer, sonic manipulator, record hunter and writer/contributor for a variety of webzines.

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