MONUMENTUM  In Absentia Christi  LP   (Avantgarde Music)   33.99

Also available on vinyl in gorgeous gatefold packaging.

Another somewhat obscure 90's-era band that has been in dire need of reissue, Monumentum is back in print via Avantgarde Records. Their 1995 debut In Absentia Christi , originally released on the infamous Misanthropy Records, was a sledgehammer to the heart when it came out. You get swallpowed up in their velvety, sumptuous chaos immediately, starting with the swierling dark ambience of "Battesimo: Nero Opaco (Baptism: Black Opaque)" crafted from an array of portentious and sinister sampled sounds, then crushed by the unique gothic doom of classic cuts like the instrumental "A Thousand Breathing Crosses" that bleeds into the even more grandiose "Consuming Jerusalem" where the band's full armamement is unveiled - these heavier moments feel to me like an extension of that awesome early Peaceville death-doom vibe, but comletely soaked in darkwave elements, neoclassical flourishes, breaks of delicate atmopsheric melody that sound like something from Lycia, late-era Swans, or Dead Can Dance, depending on the passage; the vocals, offputting tp some, well i LOVE 'em, a mixture of weary baritone reminiscent of Tom Warrior and Rozz Williams, with some astounding soaring singing, bizarre chanting , this ecstatic and morbid energy pulsing through his voice - it's something else. Wavering, almost shamaniostic cries rising above glacial drumming, gloom-puking keyboard accompaniment, and huge guitar/bass riffs, this strange and compelling mutation that blends old-school gothic rock, darkwave, and doom metal into this wild , mystic experimental presence.

Just as strange and mesmeric is Andrea Zanetti ( also a member of the death metal band Maleficarum ), whose voice brings an additional Coming on like some vintage goth rock, "Fade To Grey " weaves thick, sensous synths and Zanetti's operatic singing around a killer plodding post-punk style drone, eerie and beckoning with an almost folk-like melody underpinning the music . A child's music box is heard chiming amid frustr4ated movement before "On Perspective Of Spiritual Catharsis " comes on as a black cloud, intricate instrumentation and moody guitar arpeggios intertwining, a vaguely Morricone-esque vibe emerging from the fog, the band erupting into another massive dirge, vast and crushing and underscored with subtle orchestral elements and the wheeze of accordion; a very weird, fairly experimental doomscape that becomes one of In Absentia Christi 's defining moments, conjuring somet5hing that feels like Christian Death fusing with the immense, dour intensity of Serenades-era Anathema , with a massive production sound, and even at the most chaotic and surreal, this and the other songs continue to feel structured together as one piece. "SelunhS AggeloS" is even more exotic sounding: Francesca Nicoli from the cult goth / neoclassical group Ataraxia appears here , howling and ululutaing over a thick, heavy drone of multiple bass guitars, hypnotic drumming, the sound of bouzouki, hand cymbals, and those vast keyboards opening up electronic depths. "From These Wounds", "Terra Mater Orfanorum" and are heavuier, doom-laden dirges of despair, UUUUUGGGGHHHHH, but always spreading out into unexpected fields of accordion-led folkiness, church bells, abstract and surrealistic soundscapes, distant sirens, blasts of cold symphonic power and ominous, soaring operatics, and those titani9c funereal marches. Another standout is a cover of "Nephtali" from the 80's Italian goth rock band Dead Relatives; it's one of the most straightforwadd rocking songs here, sounding remarkably like some lost Christian Death tune. It's pretty rad. Closer "La Noia (Boredom)" is all forlorn doomed grandiosity that stretches out to neaerly ten minutes, the singing shifting into spoken pieces of existential fear and catastrophic ennui while damned souls wail and scream in the dark. Ultimately dissipating into a single feedback tone , a textured minimal mantra that softly rises and falls for a seeming eternity.

What a strange aslbum from a straner and mercurial band. I'm a big fan of this band, but bear in mind that I also have a very high tolerance for 80s-90s era gothic rock;

Seriopusly dark and vividly warped lyrics

Track Samples:
Sample : Terra Mater Orfanorum
Sample : On Perspective Of Spiritual Catharsis
Sample : Consuming Jerusalem