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Dictator - A Monument of Glory ...(???) - 85%

Xivphan, September 16th, 2011

The overall sound present in Ad Hominem’s “Dictator – A Monument of Glory” is straightforward black metal with a distinctive thrash factor (headbangers rejoice), similar to efforts from bands such as Funeral Mist, Marduk, Ravencult, Urgehal, Tsjuder, and the like. However, overall production is polished and mixed in such a way that is heard in more death metal than this sort of black metal. The production is clean and there is not (as opposed to the aforementioned bands) much of a trace of muddiness or an emphasis on the high end of the equalizer. In fact, at times I think that the guitar presence could be amplified a notch. The vocals are good (not great) with a standard black metal style that tends towards the more low-pitched end of the screaming spectrum and also incorporates shouts, chants, and echoing roars.

The music incorporates a moderate amount of sound effects, mostly revolving around militant or industrial themes (such as brief choruses, repetitive mechanical sounds, chanting, explosions, and spoken word that sounds like public speech) bringing to mind visions of proud, modern armies marching through cities, surrounded by flags, machines of war, and an uplifted nation. I can definitely see why this band has been accused of national socialistic sympathies based only on the sound effects incorporated here, for they emote images of organized force and brazen militant pride.

None of the instruments really stand out as being particularly technical, complex, or fast, but they all hold their own and it is really the whole package together that makes the album work, albeit somewhat standard. In my opinion, it is the use of the sound effects throughout the album that distinguishes this band from (although does not necessarily make better than) others like it. Ultimately, although the above elements distinguish Ad Hominem from other bands, there is really nothing ground-breaking going on here. In every way, the final product is good, and maybe even very good at times, but not really exceptional and definitely not mind-blowing. “Dictator” is a respectable black metal release with some interesting elements. In the music, one can see what they are trying to achieve with the album title, but I don’t really think they achieve it.

Final thoughts: where many of similar acts have a distinct ‘organic’ rawness to their aggression, Ad Hominem takes a similar musical foundation and creates a more mechanical, polished attack. The culminating emotive effect of the sound is militant, determined, uncompromising sense of power and pride (created by the effects) combined with a ferocious, pummeling, inevitable sense of war and assault created by its black metal violence. It’s worth a listen.