CRYPT MONARCH - THE NECRONAUT
HEAVY STONER DOOM FROM COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is not known as a mecca for heavy music, so you might be tempted to explore The Necronaut in case South Americans, Crypt Monarch, offer something intriguing or novel. There are, however, some seriously unambiguous hints where this is going to go: the artwork, the song titles, three tracks that range from 10 to 15 minutes. Oh, and a backstory concerning the resurrection of a wronged dead king seeking revenge on those who killed him. Yes, this is unadulterated, unrefined, existentially scuzzy stoner doom. With overt displays of congenital Sabbath worship and flagrant influences of the likes of Acid King or Sleep, Crypt Monarch appear to know firmly what they like and how they like to play it. And that is steadfastly within the scope of genre traditions.
Fifteen minute opener Morning Star Through Skull sees rugged, irascible vocals echo through a raw, primordial miasma of Sabbathian denseness and hazy, fried blues. It is a hulking, fuzzy slow-moving brute whose evolution is decidedly unhurried. Creepy, sleepy passages trade off with lugubrious chugging and gargantuan walls of trippy noise. The whole structure photosynthesises slowly, but sprouts into a more riffed-up outing in the last quarter of the track.
Rex Meridionalis – apparently a single – is brasher and rockier with a soupcon of desert session sun-bleached haze beneath the noisy head-nodding wobbly grooves. Slow-baked in harsh fuzz and wavering reverb, it is like transcendental heat stroke. By this point, and it took a while to reach here, it’s apparent that Crypt Monolith’s USP is their sound is that notch more abrasive, noisy, crackly, and rougher than many of their smoked out peers. It’s like a beer advert on narcotics and filmed in a catacomb. Aglaphotis is, meanwhile, unashamed textbook retro Sabbath doom; heavy, forlorn with guitar notes that hang suspended in static over a swampy, torpid gait. There are some pendulous grooves that rise malevolently from the murk.
You have to salute stoner doom bands like Crypt Monarch. They really do not seem to care. They don’t care about being stylistically or thematically unoriginal. They don’t care that they all uniformly fetishize the same retro sources. In fact, in this sub-genre that is an accolade that is actively encouraged and applauded. And, of course, they don’t care how long their songs take. These bands are so formulaic, you cannot help but admire their resolute, blissful not caring. You might as well just go with the otherworldly flow. In any case, none of this matters a jot when you make music that transports you through the warp and mangles conventions of time.
So yes, The Necronaut sounds exactly like you would bet. And yes, you have heard this many, many times before. But yet, Crypt Monarch have something. The album, which cheekily only just lurches over the runtime of an EP, is like the soundtrack to a hangover in the underworld. Crypt Monarch’s brooding, rumbling hymns can take a small aeon to warm up and tend to develop most rapidly in the final third of each track, but there are some decent spread-eagled riffs and credible, slow headbanging grooves as deep as the Mariana Trench. Their sound is more amped up, cranky and mountainous than some of their more tripped out, ethereal scene peers. The essence of stoner doom is, of course, not about succinct songcraft but on epic atmosphere and existential mood and Crypt Monarch have a few spacious tomb loads’ worth.