Droning, like its sibling, Repetition, is tricky: it can be transcendent if perfect (or lucky)—see Greg Fox-era Liturgy, 0n0, 90s Earth, etc—or boring, moronic and pretentious if it isn't. And often there is an extremely fine (or subjective) line between whether it succeeds or fails.

This record has a realization paradox/problem in regard to its use of drone/ repetition. It's not like it's rendered poorly, per sé (nor is it totally stellar either)—in other words, it's not technically bad—but strangely, that's at least part of the problem. It's too careful even as it repeats pointless, meandering riffs; riffs less of the monolithic narco- hypnotic realm they seem to be shooting for, and more of the random, inane variety you could find at any Guitar Center. The riffs are somehow neither bold, catchy, nor restrained enough; the overall effect being: well-recorded sound and synthetic fury, purging nothing; emotionless even as it fulfills its "metallic" function. An artless, Antonioni-like attempt at Sabbath. Khanate schematised and completely drained of its crazed, abstract psychosis.

Even worse, and probably out of desperation, there are parts to this record that are improvisational, and yet so minimal, the record ends up feeling intentionally obscure at times. Improvisation is great, I guess, but you better be a dedicated lifer Albert Ayler-style before you put it between someone's ears, even if your filing it under a low-qualification-requiring genre like Drone Doom/Dark Ambient, Ferrous Free Form or whatever (insert your validating genre here). Obfuscation is not deep, mysterious or even ominous—in any way. And it's especially NOT interesting. It's fucking prattle.

Like I said, this isn't the worst thing ever, okay? It's just that the only effect Omens really creates in the listener is a conviction that Monarch should prorogue while they find an underground laboratory, and let whatever's good/interesting/weird about them fester under high pressure sodium grow lights instead of under the hot lights of some shitty club. In a world filled with artistic clutter... the trick is not to belong. [At A Loss]

-Jeff Mooridian


Monarch-Omens. from Sabbat Noir on Vimeo.

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