Sabbat Noir


MONARCH is a French band who play dark and meditative Drone/Doom not too dissimilar to […]
By Martin Knap
March 20, 2019
Monarch - Sabbat Noir album cover

MONARCH is a French band who play dark and meditative Drone/Doom not too dissimilar to SUN O))). The band was founded in the early 2000s and has been pretty active ever since in terms of releasing albums and touring. They regularly get booked to play at big festivals in Europe and a few months ago had a headlining tour in Asia during which I've got a chance to see them live. Although they've gained considerable recognition, the music they play is kind of niche and the regular Joe Metalhead might not have heard of them. MONARCH have eight releases under their belt, "Sabbat Noir" is their 2010 album that is being re-released by Zanjeer Zani Productions.

I've mentioned that I have seen them play live, because the live experience is crucial when it comes to this type of music. It can be said of all types of music - live performances provide a more immediate, physical experience -, but it seems to me that Drone and Noise oriented music is the least suited for studio albums, especially with drawn out compositions such as "Sabbat Noir," of which the entire album consists. During a live performance one almost bathes in vibrations of sound, which has a powerful hypnotic effect that can't be replicated at home. Having experienced them live, I knew what I was getting myself into with this album and I know that the music can be captivating, even though it is far from accessible.

The 29-minutes long piece opens with the buzzing of the guitar, an occasional strum, the drummer hits the cymbals a few times, later on he hits the snares - a total lack of any structure and melody. In it's first half the composition just goes through different motions, but there is also a gradual buildup to a down tempo, Funeral Doom groove. The vocalist Emilie adds electronica white noise and drawn-out, modulated wails and screams to the strumming and drum beats that come in faster intervals and gradually a structure is taking shape. In the second half the sounds finish their metamorphosis into crushing Funeral Doom with a glacial tempo and a riff heavy as a ton of bricks. In the outro the music deconstructs itself again into noise (or Noise, if you like).

This band is not for everyone obviously, even I had moments where I felt a little skeptical that this drawn out, skeletal composition would do anything for me, but it does work. The human ear is designed to look for patterns and hearing a slow emergence of structure, or the rebuilding of something that was deconstructed, can be fascinating if you're in a receptive mindset. As an album it's hard to judge this: their more conventional albums with three to four tracks like "Omens" are more "manageable" for the listener, but in a live setting it might be a whole other story. I can surely recommend this, just beware that this band doesn't play conventional Metal music.

7 / 10









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"Sabbat Noir" Track-listing:

1.  Sabbat Noir

Monarch Lineup:

Emily Bresson - Vocals
MicHell Bidegain - Bass
Shiran Kaïdine - Guitars
Rob MacManus - Drums

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