The release of a new Mono album is always great news. However Requiem for Hell, in my opinion, is the sound of a band hitting their absolute peak.
The very first thing I noticed about it is how much noisier and rough around the edges it appears in comparison to their previous records. Whilst Mono were never ones to shy away from typical post rock quiet/loud dynamics, they seem to be exploring how loud they can actually get. For example album opener ‘Death in Rebirth’ is a masterclass in sound design, as the noisy guitar work is overlayed with more and more guitars being added in to the mix and the drums pacing an ever increasing tempo which dictates the flow of the song, before ending in an absolute wall of feedback and noise.
This isn’t to say it’s not tuneful or familiar, far from it. I surprisingly hear a lot of Mogwai’s ‘Mr Beast’ in songs like ‘Ely’s Heartbeat’, where reverb laden guitar lays over some moving piano work and a hypnotic tom heavy drum pattern holds your interest and is probably one of the loveliest sounding tunes on the album.
Another theme I picked up on in some of the songs was space. Mono’s songs were always vast and open, but nowhere is this more evident than on songs like ‘Stellar’, a string led ambient piece, which at times has background noise coming in which sounds like a ship cruising past meteors and asteroids. I can’t help but draw comparison to the soundtrack of space-sim game No Man’s Sky.
The absolute highlight of this album is the sprawling title track, coming in at over 17 minutes, it’s the longest track on the album and as you can expect is a multi layered set piece in 3 different phases. It starts with the typical Mono guitar sound intertwined with xylophone before the drums start around the 4.30 mark. The ‘Mr Beast’ comparisons come in to play around this song too, until an absolute explosion of sound around the 12 minute mark with detuned guitars facing off against each other, which works really well.
Overall a fantastic album which truly sticks with you and demands you give it repeated listens.
Listen to ‘Ely’s Heartbeat’ below: