Album Review: Skull of Monthu – Two Paths
Edit: Obolus have decided to change their name to Skull of Monthu, since there is already another Obolus. We shouldn’t mind as Monthu is an awesome Egyption falcon-god and the new cover art is amazing.
Origin: United States
Release date: Summer 2012
Lyrical content: n/a
Genre: Experimental Black/Doom Metal
Two Paths came to me by means of two CD-ROMs, in one jewel case, in a box which was in theory able to hold fifty jewel cases, but was filled with polystyrene foam. These guys do handle their babies with care for sure, and after some heedful listening I can see why. Two Paths is an album which is very worthwhile and which should be appreciated to the fullest.
At the first few listens, I didn’t know what to make of this album. I heard influences from all different kinds of Extreme Metal-genres, but none of them was dominating the others really. The above mentioned genre is the closest I could fit without resorting to ridiculously long and extended genre identifications.
So without tiring you with endless indoctrinations of genre-Nazism, I’ll guide you right into the album, because what a crazy and hectic piece of work this is. The dark and heavy riffing of the guitars, reinforced by the cyclopean drumming directly grab the listener by the throat when Murder – A Typical Routine starts. These previously mentioned guitars are tremolo-picked, pretty basic and they simply rumble on in their assault of heaviness. This assault reaches its climax in an almost Conan-like riffing on The Crow Flies, a ten minute epic near the end of the album.
The drumming is very appropriate for the rest of the music on Two Paths. It’s not too technical, but if you listen closely, you can actually hear some complex rhythms going on. In this regard, I have to give kudos for making abundant rhythm changing seem smooth and effortless.
The vocals are awesomely raw, and bordering on becoming cries, they perfectly accentuate the frantic, panicking mood of the album. On top, they are exorcised of boringness by the addition of distant background chants and distorted half clean vocals and low animal growls, all neatly distributed in a multitude of layers.
The whole experimental part of the album is formed by scratching, almost Nu Metal-style sound effects, but also by the frequent employment of tribal drums, a cello and samples. They all give each song a very different spin and make sure the listener never gets enough of the sound the band employs.
The two songs I mentioned already give you a good example of how the atmosphere on Two Paths is enhanced by the song titles. They are dark and they give the listener a direct impression of what the whole album is about. I was allowed to upload a song on youtube for you to listen to, but I’ve had a hard time choosing. When this is out, just get it because this is good. In order to give you the best impression and caption the diversity of this album I’ve given you Black Hills and the subsequential The Crow Flies in one video.
The only point of criticism I could find concerns the production of the album. Overall the album is very raw and low-fi, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when I spun this album through a high-end audio installation I was missing a big chunk of low end frequencies. However, this is not the end of the world as I believe most of you will probably listen to Two Paths through a pair of headphones or lower capacity speakers. In case you do frequently play your music through a high-end audio system, then Two Paths will probably sound a bit thin to you. Something you might, or might not enjoy.
To end on a positive note, Skull of Monthu have managed to create a good fifty minutes filled with frantic Experimental Black/Doom Metal with a very well-conveyed, dark and heavy atmosphere. In such, it is able to serve a wide variety of Extreme Metal fans, which in turn is another strength of Two Paths.
My Grade: 9.0/10
Buy this when:
- you like any form of Extreme Metal
- you enjoy experimentation within your music
- you like albums to strongly convey a certain atmosphere