MONO – REQUIEM FOR HELL

Release: October 14, 2016 via Temporary Residence
Rating: 4/7

On their ninth studio album Tokyo’s Mono plays out the immutability of formula. Carrying the 17-year torch of loud post-rock first animated by Isis and their ilk and since reiterated ad infinitum, Requiem for Hell doesn’t leave the house, rooting itself in familiar dynamics and looping to the edge of hypnosis — for better or for worse.

The pounding and stomping anthem “Death in Rebirth” begins the album with the glittering build expected and appreciated of any Mono effort. For 8 minutes high trills oscillate over a rhythmic ascension, a crescent tracing out momentum into louder, louder space. In a turn towards contemporary classical face, “Stellar” provides a breathing moment in silken strings and glockenspiel.

The titular “Requiem for Hell” is an 18-minute opus of repetition which would test even the most patient of post-rock devotees. The dynamic construction and execution vivify at first, then go on to decay the pinnacle to a numbing recurrence of its single discordant riff. Eventually, every compositional shift in the song spent, all that’s anticipated is a hurried end, posing the track as a skipped plague at the album’s heart. 

“Ely’s Heartbeat” follows to cleanse the dissonance and offer up its rolling peace, returning to the steady bliss of Mono’s tenure. “The Last Scene” caps the album with classical inspiration in its arcing tremolo and ocean-like timing, exhibiting perhaps the greatest tonal maturity of any of the band’s songs to date; the destination is not an earsplitting heaven or hell but an uncomplicated psychic drift, a pensive sound for glowing and stasis.

Doubtless the live performance of Requiem would make its loud emotional etch on most observers, the endless crescendo and entropy working like huge, sapping ritual. But as a recording Mono’s latest album dedicates itself to sameness and simplicity, never surprising and for all that falling into the ambience of background.