Modern Rites’ debut recording ‘Monuments’ pairs black metal, industrial, basks in bleak woes

Artists making music or any type of art together typically is driven from a state of respect for one another’s skills, otherwise what’s the point of doing something together? That’s not to suggest every band lives peacefully with everyone getting along, because that’s not the case at all. But you should at least recognize the artists surrounding you are worthy of your presence and the music’s power.

In the case of new industrial-flavored black metal band Modern Rites, the whole reason the project exists in the first place is the two people involved—Jonny Warren of Kuyashii (vocals, bass, rhythm guitar, synth) and Berg of Aara (guitars)—appreciated each other’s skills and wanted to put something together that highlighted what they do so well. That comes with “Monuments,” the duo’s first record, an album that’s heavily moving in the shadows and delivers driving murk and black metal grit. Lyrically, the band delves into bleak aspects of humanity including issues dealing with psychology, isolation, conflict, and the shadow self, so it’s also harrowing from a content standpoint.

“Intro” is a murky, cloudy intro piece, letting beams crack through the sky, leading into “Vigilance Eternal” that unloads heavy black metal riffs and shrieks that rumble the earth. Strong melodies get into your blood, and the chorus just melts, delivering majestic energy, pummeling into oblivion. “Black Wolf” is thrashy and dark as it greets you with the shrieks opening wounds and the pace chugging. The guitars darken and sicken as the drama hits a fevered pitch, leading into playing that is both spacious and sinister, simmering and ripping as the track tears away into the void. “Unburdened” ramps up right away, charging through the gates as the riffs gush melody. The drums pelt as Warren’s growls tear into time, doing ample bodily damage. An atmospheric moan causes your head to soar, the leads crash through clouds, and a heavy echo takes hold, swallowing everything into darkness.

“Self Synthesis” fades in, letting the temperature rise before the walls are torn down. The drums punish as the playing lands shots, and a hypnotic spread spills into your mid-section, tornadic gushing elbows into the shadows, and the growls rush as the track smashes to its end. “Nothing Left To Give” also bleeds in before opening the raging waves, and industrial waves blacken and mix with molten shrieks, leaving your nerves tested. Things stay heavy as noises ring in your ears, the playing punishes, and the vocals hit a weird hiss. The final moments get thrashy and odd, laying waste until it ends abruptly. “Machine Paradox” is the closer, basking in drab chills, picking up in earnest as the guitars tangle. The vocals smash as the melodies make the room spin, washing into the stratosphere and infusing the sounds with air. The pace steamrolls, barreling into a thick synth gaze that lifts you and deposits you into the clouds.

Modern Rites find a fresh and original way to meld black metal might and industrial sootiness, but never at the expense of the competing sounds. “Monuments” is a record that will sneak up from behind and set in its hooks if you’re not careful, and the seven tracks here always find ways to be spellbinding. This is a fun, soot-covered record that makes you feel filthier than you did before you took in on by the horns, and hopefully we’ll hear from these two as a duo again.

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