“Can it be a peace between us? Peace? No peace.” This is the “famous” line from Roland Emmerich’s 1996 film, Independence Day. After the psychotic murdering alien wraps a tentacle around the throat of a scientist it can use him to speak and understand English, because you know, movie magic! It also serves as the opening line and introduction to the latest album from Dutch death metallers The Monolith Deathcult. For those unfamiliar, the band’s style has a strong industrial influence, with a heavy emphasis on backing synths. The closest comparison would probably be The Project Hate MCMXCIX, but there are also definite parallels to Fear Factory, Spetic Flesh, Nile, and even some Rotting Christ.

TMDC differs from most of the aforementioned bands in that they don’t take themselves seriously, at all, and yet lyrically they cover some of the bleakest subject matters imaginable: torture, genocide, Jihad, etc. It’s certainly a strange contradiction, one that makes them rather unique. My introduction to the band was their third full length album, 2008’s superb Trivmvirate, and after a long 5 years, they have returned with their latest effort, Tetragrammaton.

“Gods Amongst Insects” builds in a Vader-esque fashion with thundering guitars, horns, and strings before it unleashes its main cacophonous assault of furious riffs and machine gun drums just past the one minute mark. The narration of voice actor Peter Cullen, who played Optimus Prime in the original 1980s Transformers animated series, serves the song’s theme well. While the song’s relentlessly pummeling onslaught is enjoyable, after about 7 minutes in, you start looking at your watch. While listening, I kept thinking “here would’ve been a great place to end this.” The end of a particular structure at around 8:55 would’ve been a perfect place to wrap things up, but no, the song instead cycles back to its main structure one more time, and it’s just not necessary. Sadly this is an issue that crops up throughout much of Tetragrammaton. This thing is just too long.

“Human Wave Attack” shifts away from aliens and Transformers to the tactic of throwing an overwhelming force of dispensable soldiers at your enemy. Following another voice over from Cullen, a fairly brief, thrash based intro leads into a main structure of crushing industrial death accompanied by Eastern synths and vocal samples that give the song a strong Ministry vibe. The relentless riffs and wah driven solos do work their way into your head, but as with “Gods Amongst Insects,” the song seems to not know when to end.

“Drugs, Thugs & Machetes” returns to furious death metal of “Gods Amongst Insects,” tempered with Fear Factory inspired industrial elements. The juxtaposition of its central theme with samples of a speech from MLK is…odd. I’ll leave it to you what to make of that, but as a whole I don’t think it’s one of the album’s stronger tracks. Fortunately things pick back up with “Todesnacht von Stammheim,” which follows a similar path as “Kindertodeslied” from Trivmvirate, if not quite as successfully. Imagine Rammstein going full on death metal and you’ve got it.

“S.A.D.M. (Svpreme Avantgarde Death Metal)” is one of the album’s highlights, with absolutely frenzied riffs and delightful symphonic elements. Again though, did it need to be nearly 9 minutes long? “Qasr Al-Nihaya” is basically a love note to Fear Factory’s Demanufacture. Things come to a close with the absurdly titled “Aslimu!!! – All Slain Those Who Bring Down Our Highly Respected Symbols To The Lower Status Of The Barren Earth,” which is TMDC poking a bit of fun at Nile and songs like “Libation Unto the Shades Who Lurk in the Shadows of the Temple of Anhur” or “Chapter of Obeisance Before Giving Breath to the Inert One in the Presence of the Crescent Shaped Horns.” It takes many of the cues from “Human Wave Attack” and expands upon them with effective results.

Related Pages:

HD T Fair Warning

Interview: Troy Glessner

Tetragrammaton takes a bigger, heavier tack in terms of production compred to Trivmvirate, and it’s not really a change for the better. While the last album was far from an audiophile masterpiece, its mix was at least decently balanced, though there was little weight to the guitars or much low-end impact. Tetragrammaton definitely has more low-end punch and the guitars sound better tonally, but it loses the balance entirely and lets the guitars simply dominate everything, even many of the vocal parts. The cymbals are often MIA, but the kick drum is better served here than last time.

Ultimately, Tetragrammaton seems to suffer from the same disease that afflicts many major Hollywood sequels. The story and character development that made the original so entertaining gets pushed aside in favor of more elaborate set pieces, crazier stunts, and bigger explosions. That’s basically what we have here. It seems like TMDC was so focused on making the album seem more brash and more in your face than Trivmvirate that they forgot to focus on compelling song writing, and they really forgot how to self edit. Within this hour there’s about 45 minutes of pretty compelling material, and it’s a shame that the band wasn’t able to recognize that. Long time fans may want to pick this up, but if you’re new to the band, definitely start with Trivmvirate.