The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Monolith Cult, Run from the Light

No word on whether UK four-piece Monolith Cult had contradicting Trouble in mind with the title of their forthcoming debut LP, Run from the Light — as opposed to Trouble‘s 1987 third album, Run to the Light — but there’s a clear undercurrent of traditional doom in the Bradford heavy rockers’ approach. They’re not through “Sold Down the River,” the opener of the record, before guitarist Lee Baines, also of Lazarus Blackstar, has turned the riff to C.O.C.‘s “Albatross” on its head, showing clear knowledge of where the border between rock and doom lies and as much willingness to cross it both there and throughout the album.

They follow the strong opener with their infectious namesake tune, “Monolith Cult,” on which bassist Ian “Izak Gloom” Buxton, also of Solstice and Lazarus Blackstar, underscores Baines‘ guitar with considerable rumble while vocalist Bry Outlaw recites the hook like the incantation threat it is. After drummer Damian Clarke picks up at the end, they nod back in the direction of the chorus without going fully back to it, and it proves enough to give some hint of their songwriting acumen, which shows itself further as they bury a “Hole in the Sky” boogie deep within the reaches of “Blind Watchmaker,” repurposing a classic idea to suit their own ends, the vocals lending emotional weight without being over-the-top in either their bluesiness or performance.

Tracks keep a lengthy ethic — none so much as “Sold Down the River” at 9:43 (immediate points for putting the longest song first) — but don’t give much of a sense of wandering from the central ideas grounding them. “Blind Watchmaker” has a verse riff that were it not quite so viscous could prove to be a shuffle in a faster tempo, and “Violent Movements” proves even more Sabbathian in the guitar and bass work, but avoids sonic cliche deftly with fervent crash propelling the verse, an unexpected level of bombast leading to the more melodic chorus, catchy but not quite as insistent as that of “Monolith Cult.” Nor does it need to be. A slower break once again introduces a doomier vibe, and Bry Outlaw adjusts his vocals to match, so that as “Human Cull” begins, Monolith Cult are at their most plodding and doomed yet.

So of course it’s a ripper. A sample of a 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign commercial threatening nuclear holocaust begins the track, and from there, Monolith Cult embark on a dark boogie that seems to sum up some of their apocalyptic framework while also stomping out their most rocking material. They’re not thrashing or anything, but they get their point across and manage to keep the pervasive moody atmosphere even at the increased pace, keeping the big slowdown of the intro to closer “Suicide and Heroin” — announced righteously by Buxton‘s bass — consistent despite the brakes being applied.

“Suicide and Heroin” winds up reveling in faster chugging and one of Run from the Light‘s most potent blends of heavy rock and doom, leaning more to one side, then the other as Bry Outlaw‘s vocals follow the groove and add an extra layer for the chorus. But for the opener, the finale is the longest piece on the album, and it ties together everything Monolith Cult are able to accomplish throughout as one might hope, also giving a glimpse of where the foursome might be able to go with the sound their next time out. At around five and a half minutes in, it kicks into a steady thud that finishes the album with a moment of ultra-satisfying groove, giving a last-minute surprise to what’s already proven an impressive debut.

Future Noise Recordings will release Monolith Cult‘s Run from the Light this summer. You can hear the album as part of the regular playlist now on The Obelisk Radio and check out the track “Monolith Cult” below, which the label has made available for streaming and download:

Monolith Cult, “Monolith Cult” from Run from the Light

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