Monarkh

Rites Profanes

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Patrick Pelletier, leader of the Quebec-based band Monarque, adapted that name for his enjoyable solo debut, a none-more-darker exploration into the world of ambient and meditative gloom that's been one of the most fruitful branches of metal in the past two decades. When compared to the ultimately dead-end burblings of Mortiis, meanwhile, Monarkh already aims for something better, drawing as much from mechanistic film/video game sonic designs as from musical inspirations to create an immersive, angry, and unsettling combination. Deep drones settle in the background as chains and metal clash and scrape in sudden sonic eruptions, sweet keyboard serenity gets continually undercut by squelching sounds that inevitably suggest grotesque scenarios -- it's prime horror movie stuff (very much a compliment, as any fan of Coil's work will know). Though divided into nine songs, the album is very much of a piece, each part flowing into the next and suggesting exactly what its title implies, a ritual with a darker edge. Those moments of lightness that do come through are more ones of serenity, the sense of a deep breath before a plunge, like the calm wash hovering low in the mix on "L'Antre de la Peur," even as more echoing clashes and snippets of sound (including a brief snatch of laughing children) suggest something worse at work. In all, Rites Profanes is a striking debut for Pelletier in this guise, as well as a good sign of promise from the deep underground metal label NMB for the future.

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