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Monarque Revisited. - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 19th, 2009

It might be unfair to say, but if you’ve ever had the privilege of hearing Monarque, then you should know what to expect from Carrion Wraith. Why is it unfair to say such a thing? Well, Carrion Wraith are a bit more experimental than Monarque, a associated band, but given the vocalists free reign over the material, the band give off the impression that Monarque (the band member this time, how confusing) has a firm grasp over the direction of this band. To be fair, his experience with creating delicious black metal delights proceeds him. Both him, and M. War who has provided his services for the band Monarque before, are included in the line-up for this band, so the fact that it resembles the other aforementioned Canadian band isn’t much of a surprise. However, the influences are far more wide ranging than just being a direct copy of Monarque themselves. There are subtle hints of bands like Falls of Rauros with the combination play that takes place between the acoustics, bass and distorted guitars. As well as a mild hint of Xasthur through the thickened distortion, which acts like a plague over the atmospheric soundscapes, darkening the entire emotional background of the record, filling it with a grey sadness that restricts colour and light from influencing the direction of the juxtaposed instrumentation as upbeat bass and guitars combine to create hollow and painful expressions that indicate the exact opposite of the style.

Carrion Wraith are all about combinational styles. Bass with guitars, acoustics with atmospherics and clean vocals with harsh vocals. The band challenge the listener to think beyond what they known, in terms of black metal. The possibilities are endless and though this won’t go down as the most experimental black metal record of all time, it will be classed as a great black metal record. I would most certainly call Monarque a straight-up black metal band. There are no thrills and although the style isn’t generic or repetitive to the degree of some depressive black metal bands, Monarque lives within its limited territories, expressing its feelings and thoughts from a cold distance. Carrion Wraith however, don’t do this. They attempt to confront the listener with beautifully mesmerising chanted vocals (‘Their Screams Through The Wilderness’ depicts this fantastically well) and acoustics that draw out that hidden folk-ish side that reminds me so fondly of the epically extraordinary Falls of Rauros. The aforementioned song is actually a fine example for the multi-dimensional sound that is discussed within the entirety of this review. The band don’t allow limitations to drag their music into the abyss of the generic depressive black metal sub-genre that comes attached with much ridicule. Although I have heard many people sling this band straight into the depressive fray, the sound identifies a far more wide ranging style, which I’ve already touched upon. The minor similarities to black/folk metal bands like Falls of Rauros, though subtle, are imperative to the overall image of the band. From a depressive black metal act, the band are suddenly flung into a different direction, a far more exciting one where stereotypes are the worst enemy amongst your peers and experimentation is your first love, the apple of your eye.

Carrion Wraith are experimental, without being pretentious. Listening to songs like the hypnotic ‘His Rotting Crown And Carcass’ the influences begin to flow and simultaneously mesh together, surpassing all of their inspirations in one movement. The raw class of the bass and tremolo Judas Iscariot, to the acoustically driven Falls of Rauros and even on to the distorted and entrancing Velvet Cacoon, Carrion Wraith make light of blending this vastly different styles together and this allows the audience a view of something divine and fresh, which was unforeseen at the beginning. Given the massive vocal role that Monarque has, I expected this band to follow in the footsteps of his own, but Carrion Wraith have distinctive differences between themselves and Monarque, forcing the two to become polar opposites and rightfully so. Unlike Monarque‘s records, none of the songs jump off the page on an individual note. With Monarque, one can easily distinguish between the songs which are the stronger and which are the weaker one’s but that doesn’t apply here and although Monarque get far more plaudits for supplying us with true gems, Carrion Wraith actually have the more productive sound that will soon become accessible to a wider ranging audience, especially since it gives bass more of an opportunity to flow near to the surface and exhibits acoustics now and again, which add different textures and emotional outlets, though they exist in many different forms - even sparse clean vocals.