Monolithe - Okta Khora
Les Acteurs de L'Ombre
8 songs (48:48)
Release year: 2020
Les Acteurs de L'Ombre
Reviewed by Goat

It has been a while since we checked in with French doom unit Monolithe, and they've been remarkably profligate since. They've totalled four numbered albums and four more non-numbered albums in the past four years, from 2015's Epsilon Aurigae onwards, starting a new gimmick with each album having tracks of the same length (2018's Nebula Septem being seven tracks each of seven minutes, for example). Latest full-length Okta Khora sort of continues this tradition, being comprised of four minute and four second or eight minute and eight second tracks (apart from one four minute and eight second track, which is odd enough to be a deliberate choice, surely?) and it's also one of the French band's lighter pieces, incorporating clean vocals and saxophone into its compelling doom morass. It's good to hear the band evolving their style of doom, having made multiple must-hear hour-long-songs there's space for a little more experimentation after all, and Okta Khora indulges this. The opening Okta Khora - Part 1 shows this softer, more melodic side to the band off immediately, as guitar-focused as ever if melodic and building into Onset of the Eighth Cycle's funeral doom monster, as riff-worshipping as ever if catchier than you'd expect thanks to some clever central riffing and a sort of chorus that works even with the growled vocals.

Next to that, the strident Dissonant Occurrence feels much more like melodic death metal in the Insomnium style, with plenty of synth backing in an early-Dark Tranquillity-esque style leading to clean singing and lead guitar-a-plenty. By the end of the track when it has shifted into an up-tempo doomdeath chugger, it's hard not to want to replay it immediately - and you're only two songs into the album! Fortunately Okta Khora continues to impress with the tribal chanting that opens Ignite the Heavens - Part 1, some well-incorporated saxophone enhancing the prog-tinged track's building vibe before Part 2 completely switches things up with a more melodic doom vibe, almost like an outro to another track altogether. It's but an interlude compared to the ensuing eight-minute The Great Debacle, however, heading back towards funeral doom territory without losing the melodic touch that is now well-established. By the end those aggressive death metal-influenced riffs have taken over, adding an extra energy that continues into Disrupted Firmament even as it switches gears with near-robotic clean singing, building into a guitar-led proggy blackened piece in the second half, as gripping as the first. And closing piece Okta Khora - Part 2 may take a more relaxed approach initially as the keyboards and guitars reach equilibrium, but the doom riffs soon make themselves felt, a more militaristic bent to the guitars and drums before the music fades away. It's perhaps as a whole not quite as earthshaking as the band's earlier releases, but Okta Khora shows that Monolithe are still very capable doom merchants eight albums in. Here's to the next eight, may they all be this good!

Killing Songs :
Onset of the Eighth Cycle, Dissonant Occurrence, Disrupted Firmament
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Monolithe that we have reviewed:
Monolithe - Monolithe IV reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Monolithe - Monolithe II reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
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