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Twilight - "Monument To Time End" (CD)

Twilight - "Monument To Time End" CD cover image

"Monument To Time End" track listing:

1. The Cryptic Ascension (9:52)
2. Fall Behind Eternity (9:45)
3. 8,000 Years (5:39)
4. Red Fields (6:36)
5. Convulsions in Wells of Fever (5:14)
6. Decaying Observer (9:08)
7. The Catastrophe Exhibition (7:03)
8. Negative Signal Omega (5:02)

Reviewed by on April 29, 2010

"'Monument To Time End' is gripping atmospheric black metal that can both fly off the handle and lull the listener into a trance with airy synthesizers."

What do Isis, Leviathan, Nachtmystium, Minsk, and The Atlas Moth all have in common? Other than being killer bands, each has at least one member involved in “Monument To Time End,” the sophomore album from the black metal powerhouse Twilight. With so much talent loaded into one band, it almost seems likely that the end result can’t live up to the full potential. The result isn’t a modern-day classic, but the band doesn’t implode onto itself and the album is a step up creatively from Twilight’s self-titled debut album.

The original incarnation of the band included guitarist/bassist/drummer Wrest, vocalist Imperial, and guitarist/vocalist Blake Judd. These principal members return, bringing along Aaron Turner, Sanford Parker, and Stavros Giannopolous for the ride. The new members seem to have brought out a larger scope to the songwriting, as three of the eight songs are over nine minutes long, a far cry from the shorter tracks of the debut album. The synthesizer and electronic effects have a hefty presence, as extended moments of ambience bring memories of Leviathan’s grimiest moments to the forefront.

Opener “The Cryptic Ascension” sticks to a mid-paced tempo in the beginning, with the only indication of black metal coming from the raw and raspy shrieks. In the five years since Twilight’s first album, there is patience to the madness that wasn’t there before. It isn’t until about six minutes in that any blast beats or static tremolo riffs are brought out. While for some that may be too long of a wait, the band makes the anticipation well worth it. The band works this perfectly throughout the rest of the album.

In fact, there is really only one track on here that can be labeled proper black metal in “Convulsions in Wells of Fever.” Even then, there is a haunting melodic break placed near the end of the song. Black metal is represented by Imperial’s vocals and a few fast breaks, but Twilight seems to aim more ambitiously than just delivering another standard black metal album. This is one of the few projects where it seems that every member has a hand and everybody is seeping in their full potential for the greater good.

What sticks to the listener after several listens is the amount of variety. “Red Fields” has a mechanical, industrial feel enhanced by layers of synthesizers and audible bass. The acoustic breakdown hidden within the song is a nice touch that is one of the few bright points in an atmosphere soaked in darkness. Clean vocals on this track, the opener, and stark closer “Negative Signal Omega” are wonderfully done by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe of Om and Lichens fame. The biggest twist to the band’s formula is in the infectious “The Catastrophe Exhibition,” with off-beat and odd guitar work that turns the track into an unintentional foot-tapper.

Imperial’s vocals are so painful and wrenching that it’s a shame that they are buried deep in the mix, overpowered by the rest of the instrumental work. It can be hard to decipher them, especially on the bland “8,000 Years,” the only noticeable misstep from Twilight. The synth-heavy track plods along with no clear direction and feels like the band is going backwards after fantastic back-to-back epics.

There hasn’t been this many quality musicians in one group since Shrinebuilder released their phenomenal debut album last year. Unlike Shrinebuilder, Twilight seems to be a studio project for the time being; understandable considering how there are members from at least four active bands involved. For a side project, this is a serious endeavor that isn’t just a bunch of friends getting together and fooling around. “Monument To Time End” is gripping atmospheric black metal that can both fly off the handle and lull the listener into a trance with airy synthesizers.

Highs: A supergroup of epic proportions, atmospheric synthesizers, songwriting is much more epic in scope compared to Twilight's debut.

Lows: A slight misstep in "8,000 Years," vocals way too deep in the mix.

Bottom line: The noteworthy musicians involved in this black metal powerhouse band work together to create a gripping album.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)