by Ján Peter Háber | Jun. 10, 2022 |
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. This was the name given by the ancient Greeks to the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II (279-1213 BC). In the early 19th century, Horace Smith and Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote sonnets about him as part of a friendly competition. However, there is only one text by Shelley on the album. The other tracks use verse by other poets. In the last two tracks, Friedrich Nietzsche is listed as the author of the lyrics. Except for two pieces sung in German and one instrumental, all the other songs are in English. The Polish band Monstergod is very close to poetry, in the past they have drawn on the aesthetics of Charles Baudelaire or William Blake. The band Monstergod was formed in late 2004 after experimenting with various underground music genres for some years. They released their first album in 2008 titled Reborn Monster. It was followed by Resurrected (2012) and Invictus (2018). They mixed different styles of the dark scene from dark electro, industrial, darkwave to synthpop and alternative rock thanks to their artful use of guitars. I would also put their work in the box of sophisticated EBM. The new album Ozymandias is a significant step forward. Although the bar has been set high in the past, they have managed to push it even higher. The dark synth surfaces may confuse the listener at first. They evoke the feeling that a chamber dungeon synth opera has gotten under one’s ears. The almost seven-minute long composition starts to gradually pulsate on pleasant EBM/Synth waves to let the guitars come in on the chorus. These elements are repeated almost notoriously throughout the track. It reminds me strongly of Heimataerde. A kind of medieval EBM (as crazy as that sounds) in which synth lines and samples are backed by orchestral parts accompanied by industrial guitars. Monstergod is basically a duo whose solid core consists of Marek Smolski and Miłosz Sobiecki. They invited many guests to join them on Ozymandias, helping with live drums, guitars and bass, production or orchestration. This makes the album feel fresh, authentic and have more sonic depth. The band took care in every little detail. After the before mentioned introduction Ozymandias, the record continues with the track The Gray. The goth rock guitars and clean vocals try to lighten the record up a bit, but the subject matter and arrangements thankfully fail to do so. The similarly musically tuned Perpetual has a strong electronic opening, only to continue later on in a mixed up, tried and tested concoction. Beloved slows and darkens, with electronics coming to the fore. It alternates between English and German. And no, these two tracks have nothing in common with VNV Nation’s iconic pieces (Beloved, Perpetual), just the title. In Cursed, they return to the helm of the guitar and we learn what the King of Kings is really all about. In My Dream starts subtly, gradually layering dark ambient surfaces on top of each other. Then the song begins to build momentum, culminating in a guitar-driven finale. Listening to In my dream, I got the strong feeling that someone had been inspired by Tabor Joy in their rendition of the record’s protagonist. Along with the previous track, these are the only songs on the album that have original lyrics by the band. And in the company of Shelley, Nietzsche, Yates, and others, they stand up excellently. Penultimate piece Austere’s is divided into two parts. A soundtrack intro with a distinctive orchestral gradation is followed by a bombastic composition as a precursor to an overall finale full of expressive guitars. The final ninth track, Subdreams, has a similar structure. The latter is linked in thought to Beloved (where a child’s voice says, among other things, “und du bist tot” – and you’re dead) as well as to In my dream. Death and dream are connected with the desire written by Nietzsche: “Ich môchte sterben, sterben” – I want to die, to die. Whether literally or metaphorically-transformed, I leave to the listener. One asks oneself many questions. What is this album about? “If you made me, who made you?”, rings out right in the opening. In the conversation between father and son, you can hear the assurance that they will find the answers. And after a relatively short story is told, the ghost of a powerful pharaoh of ancient Egypt appears on the scene. The collage of texts creates a story that everyone can piece together with their own interpretations. A very intelligent album both in concept and musically. The live instruments, especially the before mentioned drums, have benefited it greatly. I will keep coming back to this record. And the Monstergod back catalogue is worth discovering. I highly recommend it, bandcamp still exists.