What Nominon demonstrate above all else on Monumentomb is a mastery of dynamics. This mastery is revealed clearly in the opening track, Mantra Reverse. Furious blastbeating and demonic screams resolve into a chunky guitar rhythm complemented by a short solo which fades into a haunting, subtly distorted string break. A subdued groove picks up after the break and before the track ends Nominonhave returned to full death metal mode – ripping, stinging, and wishing “to be unborn.” It’s a great track and it ably foreshadows themodus operandi of Monumentomb.
The production of this album is unusual for the genre. It is much more clean than muddy and the vocals are higher in the mix, while the drums could use a little more presence. For purists, this may be a major turnoff. However, listeners interested in a fresh take on things should be pleased as this production showcases what, for the most part, are another departure from genre norms – the vocals of General Surgery’s Erik Sahlstrom, who stood in on seven of the album’s nine tracks. Sahlstrom does not employ the typical guttural growl, but rather a menacing rasp. This also has the disconcerting but fascinating effect of making the lyrics much more understandable than they often are in death metal. Again, it is unusual, but put to good effect on Monumentomb. Vocals on the two remaining tracks are handled by producer Tore Stjerna (Undead Beast) and Johan Thornberg (Wrath of Shiva) of Insision. Thornberg’s take on things provides a much more traditional sound for those desirous of a comparison.
Hellspray’s Mattias Rydell supplies guitar solos on Undead Beast and Mountain of Hate. He verges on being too bluesy and melodic with his work on Undead Beast, but it’s a short solo and doesn’t quite cross into being out of place. The solo on Mountain of Hate, however, fits into the song much better, has a more traditional sound, and is powerful enough that it makes a significant contribution to the overall quality of the track.
Track 5, Omen is another showcase of chiaroscuro, to borrow a term from the visual arts. The track jumps quickly from it’s 1-2-3-4- guitar intro into a frenetic segment which works most importantly to setup the evil, downward-spiraling bridge to the chorus, “you will see blasphemy.” Things slow down about half way through for some spoken darkness but rapidly pick back up. We get the evil bridge again, chorus, and a solo that gives the lie to the proposition that Nominon need guests guitarists. Omen ends with that evil bridge; having thoroughly wrung the listener out.
Monumentomb is an excellent album. Successive close listenings will show that there really is a lot here to appreciate. The lyrics are sick. The playing is great. The production is different but succeeds very nicely. The key ingredient in this recipe for excellence, though, is songwriting. Few, if any, things can bring out the luster in music more than dynamics, and with Monumentomb, Nominon are, as it is said in certain circles, “puttin’ on a clinic.”