Monolith — Drottnar By Jr Rife

The Monolith is complete! Whether you’ve been a Drottnar fan since the Vitality days or are a new soldier in the metallic Drottnar regime, the Monolith album is set to please old and new fans alike.

And chances are, you’ve heard most, if not all of it already and the little tastes you’ve gotten with Monolith I, II, & III put you on the path to being one of the first to get the limited-edition graphite print on jet black CDs.

But in the meantime, I’m going to write this from the viewpoint that you are new to Drottnar’s brand of “Norwegian Bunker Metal!”

Monolith opens with a track called “Funeral of Funeral”, you’re in luck because there is a music video accompanying this track on YouTube. It’s a black-and-white video marvel that captures the melancholic sounds married to extremity, most often heard in the forefront of Drottnar’s music.

The song “Aphelion” continues in the same vein with some discordant, yet lovely sounds complimented by some periodically infused blast beat driven metal in this nearly five-minute track.

“Subterranean Sun” comes on with a kind of “stop and go” feeling, starting off with a catchy little guitar hook heard throughout the track yet often broken up by some technical percussion beautifully timed with the best riffs in blackened metal.

“Axiom” is a straightforward extreme metal headbanger, at least you are led to believe this at first. It builds anticipation, but about a minute and 20 seconds into this one, the sound drops out for a moment of uncomfortable silence. When Drottnar returns, the extreme metal onslaught continues with elements of their noteworthy experimental style.

“Charagma”, first of all, let me note that this word is of Greek origin. The most common definition is usually a “stamp” or a “mark”, think of “mark of the beast” in context. Musically this track sounds like a continuation of Axiom, if it wouldn’t be for the guttural expressions that close out Axiom, it would be difficult to see where Axiom ended and where Chargama began. But, this apocalyptic themed tune might be one of my most favourite on the album. It encapsulates what kvlt blackened hybrid metal can embody. Its an opus of varying guitar and bass riffs mixed well with drums that know when to come in and when to hold back. This track is not instrumental but showcases the instrumental genius of Drottnar as a band.

At two-thirds of the way through, I have a great appreciation for the way Monolith I, II, & III were put together in this single album. In a moment of transparency, I can say that I’m not a big fan of periodic releases. I understand that it’s a method that works very well in the ever-shifting climate of the recording industry. Often, I won’t listen to a single single/EP until the full album release day so I can take it all in as one amazing work. If you’re like me and prefer to listen to albums in all their fullness and final form, at this point in the album, I think you will appreciate the flow that brings us to the 6th song, “Nihilords”. This track carries us along into a soulful and somewhat ethereal place.

“Pestleid” is one of the coolest songs I’ve ever heard that touches on spiritual warfare. It has almost a traditional black metal sound set at a slightly slower, compressed pace. There is a certain element of “victory” in this song with lyrics like “Destroying destroyers with joy”.

The track “Antivolition” is a great exhibition of Drottnar’s experimental and unique approach to metal. Fourteen words repeated over and over again in the style of their discordant thrash make this the shortest song on Monolith.

And what better way to end than with the song “Monolith” (though if you do have Monolith III this is probably no surprise to you). While this song is not super fast or “thrashing”, it is hard-hitting, heavy and really driving. It’s also the only track to feature any kind of spoken work or clean vocals but don’t let that fool you, as it only lasts a moment.

Monolith is a fine metal release that I would give a 7 out of 10. I do long for more. I think something new in addition to the nine songs released via EP would have made for an awesome surprise. But it remains a solid, well done release from Drottnar’s musical catalogue from this End Times Productions recording artist.

Drottnar will be appearing at this year’s Nordic Fest. We hope to catch up with them this November as they bring their metal dominance to the stage in Oslo, Norway.

JR Rife 7/10 (The Metal Onslaught) 2019