It’s well noted that when a band first get together, they’re full of fire and eager to prove themselves. They want to impress and showcase that their music is something that separates them from the pack. The pantheon of great debut albums is tribute to the energetic new bands delivering their sound at full throttle. The second album, however, is just as likely to fall short of encapsulating a young band’s drive and determination. What was initially fresh and vibrant can quickly stagnate as ideas and themes are not adequately explored and they seek to deliver a reformed and polished aspect of what made the previous album so exciting. The difficult second album is well documented and examples litter the dusty back shelves of record collections the world over.
However, some bands can get it just right, building on the foundations of what went before and producing an album of positive movement that not only cements their style but also pushes them forward. Since their 2020 debut Revenant, SEER OF THE VOID have sought to bring their stoner/doom riff driven sonic battering ram to a wider audience. The circumstances of the intervening years hampered that; however, they were not lazy. Releasing enticing singles to maintain the interest already ignited and playing where they could, they’ve taken the time to hone the stylistics of their chosen genre and the result is eight new tracks in the form of Mantra Monolith. It comes across as a natural progression from Revenant; chock full of memorable doom-laden riffs, they’ve worked on adding to their formula with more groove coming through the rhythm section and the mix giving the whole album an imperious quality.
Album opener Astride picks up on the cues of the band’s debut and announces the intentions of Mantra Monolith in epic SABBATH-esque style. The riff is relentless, with a descending chord pattern that hangs at the end of every bar allowing space for the colossal sounding rhythm section to crash down and drive the song onward. As a statement, it announces that this is no mere follow-up. This is an album that will grab you by the ears and show that the Greek trio are ready to take their step onto the next level. Electric Father takes this a step further. Adding an underpinning groove to the persistent guitar riffs the wall of sound crashes in behind the vocals but the sound doesn’t feel plodding as is the case with some doom/stoner tracks. The groove adds enough to the dynamic to switch up the layered textures. This also allows for freedom for the vocals to cut through as the rhythmic structure forms a framework for them to sit on. It’s the lead single from the album and provides a strong advertisement for the collective sound of Mantra Monolith.
There are several stand out moments across the album that signify this release as creative zenith for SEER OF THE VOID in their career thus far. While Electric Father is the lead single, there are tracks that eclipse it in terms of the doom/stoner power that the band are now capable of. The up-tempo Seventh Son offers an attacking edge to the doomier style of the band and cuts through the chugging riffs of the surrounding tracks indicating that the trio are not afraid to up the ante. It’s something fresh but well in keeping with the sonic qualities of the wider album. Demon’s Hand does something similar with a drum groove led intro that evolves into one of the catchier tracks on the album. As a track it delivers all the qualities that the band have been working towards over both albums, but exemplifies how their song-writing has evolved. The textural and dynamic shifts give the track an easily accessible quality that will appeal to those that are making their way into the genre, yet for the doom purists it’s an indicator of what can be added to take the sound in untold directions.
Over the eight tracks on offer, SEER OF THE VOID have proven that they are more than capable of bringing something exciting and new to the current crop of doom artists. They’ve clearly built on what worked from their previous work, yet they haven’t become ponderous and uninspired. They’ve sought to bring something different to their sound and in turn should cause a few ripples in the genre at large to make more people sit up and take notice. They set a fairly high bar previously but have gloriously risen to the challenge, harnessing a powerful mix of storming riffs and rhythms that makes it very exciting to see where they go next.
Mantra Monolith is set for release on 27th January via Venerate Industries.
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