Behold! The Monolith thunder back with sizzling, humid sludge on ‘From the Fathomless Deep’

Upheaval is a matter of life, and how one deals with that tells a lot about the person’s strength and perseverance. This is heavy metal after all, and keeping things in a state on normalcy is not really an element that makes up this style of music. This breeds chaos, and the forces that make these sounds can be volatile. Or sometimes people just move on to other things, and the overall beast endures change.

Los Angeles sludge beast Behold! The Monolith have been making heavy, quaking sounds for 15 years now, and they have four very solid full-length efforts to their name, the latest being “From the Fathomless Deep,” their first in seven years. This band has been no stranger to lineup changes, sometimes for tragic reasons, but they’ve kept going, weathering every storm that’s come for them. Joining long-time members guitarist Matt Price and drummer Chase Manhattan is vocalist/bassist Menno Verbaten (Cryptic Slaughter, Lightning Swords of Death), taking the band back to its power trio formation they displayed on their first two records. Not satisfied with staying complacent, the band adds southern and classic rock goodness to their gargantuan sound, making this record feel like a summer destroyer. 

“Crown/The Immeasurable Void” starts with a gasp before the sludge rolls in and riffs swagger. Whispers wash through before acoustics take over, bringing a dreamy haze that settles over into bass boiling and a proggy sentiment. The guitars gush again as the mud cakes and stretches toward the cosmos, dual guitars make blood rush, and everything sizzles out. “Psychlopean Dread” enters amid aching echoes that eventually gives way to trudging heaviness and spacey growls that have an alien finish. Warm guitars glow and entrance before the pace picks up, and the waters get increasingly choppy. Twin leads rule, growls draw blood, and thick bass plods toward the gates. “Spirit Taker” enters in furious flames and mixes into a mesmerizing flow, punishing and lurching, the growls mashing muscles. A psychedelic wash grips before things get breezy and then raucous, the guitars go off, and the chorus is wailed as the final moments bubble away.

“This Wailing Blade” dawns with a southern rock vibe, burly singing powering, the gritty bridge leading to the mauling chorus. The guitars glimmer, bringing on memories of summers long passed, the elements soak in the juices, and the simple, but muscular chorus lashes back again before fading. “The Seams of Pangaea” opens with a bluesy tone and speak singing, and the playing slowly increases its presence, launching into a spacey void. Moody guitars give off a mystical glaze, and then everything explodes with furnace pressure, feeling like it’s translating what warm weather feels like, the bass diving for gems. The playing flutters as the atmosphere shocks, mauling with precision to the very end. Closer “Stormbreaker Suite” is the longest track, running 11:25 and immediately serving generous amounts of sludgy guitar. It’s a slow crusher for a good stretch, increasing psychedelic heat, the flames lapping and leaving soot on your flesh. The leads infect as the playing keeps developing, bringing awesome energy as faces are melted before acoustics blend in, the final embers washed away at sea.

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard from Behold! The Monolith, but they make up for that absence with this muscular, atmospherically rich fourth record “From the Fathomless Deep.” This album seems to drink as deeply from the darkest reaches of the ocean as it does outer space, and the band’s mix of sludge, doom, and southern musical accents makes for a full-bodied, incredibly satisfying listen. This record feels like a statement from a mighty force reborn, one with experience and more tricks up their sleeve than you realized could fit in their massive arsenal.   

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