~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
This is the first time I've heard MonumentuM, and I'm rather impressed with their work. Ad Nauseam is a gothy electronica/EBM avantgardian sort of CD with plenty of sounds and things. Ok, that's a rather awful description of their music, but it's a bit hard to sum it all up. There are elements related to EBM, for instance, but MonumentuM isn't an EBM band by any means. For the most part, they take all of their influences and mold them into a dark and atompsheric work with goth vocals (both male and female).
"Last Call for Life" is a very suitable album opener, as it gives you a good indication what to expect from the rest of the CD. But it does so without revealing MonumentuM's entire bag of tricks. For the most part there is a genuinely disconcerting atmosphere on Ad Nauseam. The melancholic vocal melodies, emotive synth work, and catchy back beats do make the music very accessible - but as you start to peer behind those initially catchy layers of music you'll notice a very disturbing backdrop that poisons the music with dissonance and unexpected sounds. The soundtrack-ish approach lends itself to multiple layers of darkness. The combined effect ensures that you're bound to become uncomfortable while listening, even if you could normally handle a couple of the musical ideas on their own.
Unfortunately, there are times where the music can become almost comical. Now I'll be forward about this - I've got a rather absurd sense of humor. Most of you probably wouldn't find the whispering creepy vocals on "Perche' il mio amore" comical in any regard. I wouldn't under normal circumstances, except that when the vocalist is making shaky and odd noises with his voice, he sounds frighteningly similar to Birdman's assistant Peanut on the new cartoon version of Birdman. If you haven't seen Birdman, you very likely won't notice anything. If you have - you may laugh. If anything though, I suspect my need to laugh during some parts of the music comes from the constantly serious nature of the music. There really isn't much here to help loosen up all the tension that gets built, and this is a depressing CD from start to finish.
Although Ad Nauseam inspires a wet blanket of depression that clings tightly and doesn't let go until the music stops, there is a lot of variety present. Andrea Stefanelli dominates the vocal landscape with his goth-influenced vocal style. He does a fine job of adding in creepier elements and more melodic and passionate styles of singing throughout the songs. Alis Francesca Bos jumps in now and then to infuse the music with more melodic content. Her vocals are not secondary to the songs they're used in; she is given a prominent spot in the sound and her rich tone is used to its fullest.
The mix of live instruments and (somewhat experimental) electronic sounds give Ad Nauseam a living, breathing, organic feel. This isn't "goth" in the loose sense of Icon of Coil or other EBM bands. The tone on here is full and complete, and MonumentuM does their best to edge you towards suicide for the full 49 minutes of Ad Nauseam. The music can get to be a bit much after that time, but as I'm not a regular goth listener, I probably just haven't built up the kind of tolerance necessary to stay sane and happy through a whole album.
MonumentuM was originally on the metal label Moonfog, but have since moved to partner label Tatra to reflect their change in style. This is not a metal album by any stretch, and while I haven't heard MonumentuM's previous work, I'm quite certain they have changed their sound dramatically. If you've followed Tiamat's stylistic changes with giddy delight or you're into dark and depressing goth music with a nice backing beat, you should give MonumentuM a listen. Their music is pretty creative, if rather determined to make you cry. If any of the describing I've done so far has made you enthusiastic about hearing MonumentuM, at least... as enthusiastic as you can get over really depressing music, head over to The End Record's website (link below) and give the band a listen.
MonumentuM - Official Site:
The End Records (US Distribution)