Sound — 8
In Mourning's debut Shrouded Divine made quite a splash back in 2008, and as with all successful debuts, there is a fair amount of anticipation involved with the sophomore effort.
The group once again chose to work with producer Jonas Kjellgren, and pleasingly enough the production has improved by a few notches. Shrouded Divine wasn't poorly produced, but there were bits and pieces that could be improved, such as the snare drum which almost singlehandedly made the album painful to listen to. Monolith has no major deficiencies in that department and given the apparent heaviness, it's almost surprising how clear and well defined the instruments are.
Lyrics — 8
Tobias Netzell has improved his vocals by leaps and bounds from Shrouded Divine. He has basically doubled his amount of different voices, from two to four. The death metal growl (a very good one I might add) and the cleans are still the ones used for most of the album, but screaming and a black-esque style has also been added to the mix.
Netzell's growling is at times very reminiscent of a certain Mikael kerfeldt, which perhaps comes as no surprise as Opeth and similar bands are an obvious influence on the band as a whole. However, Netzell has begun to find his own voice more and more and it has come to the point that making the comparison is more of a stretch than it used to be.
Overall Impression — 9
When Shrouded Divine came out it was apparent to me that In Mourning had the ability to pen a really, really good album. On Monolith they've really trimmed the fat and improved as songwriters, gaining a better feel for how the song should go and what the three guitarists need to do in order to maximize the rather unique potential they have with such a line-up.
Monolith excels where it matters - songwriting and execution. While being a fairly lengthy release, clocking in at 57 minutes, the flow and quality of the songs makes it feel a lot shorter. Stylistically they haven't changed much from the debut, it's still melodic death metal with a good chunk of progressive thinking thrown into the mix, but this time around everything feels much more purposeful and mapped out.
Monolith gets 2010 off to a hot start and should in all fairness be in the running for a spot in the top 10 by the end of the year. As far as this reviewer is concerned, In Mourning are the heir apparent's to Opeth's progressive death metal throne. Lofty claims indeed, but the proof is in the Monolith.