Monasterium - Church of Bones
Nine Records
Epic Doom / Traditional Heavy Metal
8 songs (46'46")
Release year: 2019
Reviewed by Alex

I did not know if I am approaching Monasterium from a proper chronological standpoint. Highly impressed by last year’s Evangelist’s Deus Vult, I heard that two bands share not only their Polish origin, their label (Nine Records), but also members. As Evangelist keeps their members anonymous, I thought at first that Monasterium is a more strait-laced, prim and proper older brother who lent some players to a more emotional Evangelist entity. It seems to be on the opposite though, that some rawer impassioned players came out of the shadows and formed a more traditional collective, but stuck largely to the same epic doom playing field. Proof: research shows that Evangelist has been around almost a decade, while Church of Bones is only Monasterium second release, and the band existed for less than five years. All of these unimportant details aside, Evangelist tend to play their doom with weeping flair, and can be referenced mostly by Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, while Church of Bones is more mid-era Candlemass. With a lot of traditional metal present on the album, Monasterium is certainly channeling famous Swedes, but also drawing on Dio-period Sabbath and Memento Mori. There is no stoner fuzz, no flowering bluesy excesses on Church of Bones, but heavy epic 80s doom/heavy metal just rolling along, one song after another.

The immediate connection between Evangelist and Monasterium is Michal Strzelecki’s voice, very Skald-like, fantastically expressive, but without Messiah Marcolin’s sense of drama. Only periodically resorting to double bass (La danse macabre), Monasterium instead builds in narrative manner, patiently, layering their reserved, not showy riffs and hooky choruses (The Order of the Dargon, Embrace the Void). Rarely the rhythms are uneven on the album, like a stop & go Ferrier of the Dead. Instead, songs roll out as steady waves, beginning with twangy guitar (Liber Loagaeth) or acoustics (La danse macabre), but always growing in strength, finding that dominant definitive melody (Liber Loagaeth), and ultimately ceding center stage to Michal’s vocals. Also dark, mysterious and somber, Monasterium nevertheless is different from Evangelist. The latter is a prayer in a prostrate manner, passionate, with sound quality a little less polished, but emotions are dialed to the max. Monasterium instead is stately and almost always under control. It is ancient and knightly, dressed in better richer tones. While Deus Vult loses composure on occasion, Church of Bones epic nature is never in doubt, culminating in The Last Templar duet between French king Philip IV and Knights Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay. A fitting topic for a band imagining itself existing somewhere in Europe’s Middle Ages.

Killing Songs :
La danse macabre, Liber Loagaeth, The Order of the Dragon
Alex quoted 82 / 100
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