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Japan offers up some strange things. Often times, these things are mindbogglingly odd or strange, but in the case of experimental rock band MONO, its oddly understandable. Their ninth album Requiem For Hell is a thought provoking one, its dimension otherworldly.
The album only has five tracks, but don't let that deceive you - the shortest one clocks in at five minutes while the longest is seventeen and a half. Each of these songs tells a story, but the sonic atmosphere is summed up in the first track 'Death In Rebirth'. The eight minute epic is a long, epic buildup full of marching drums and evil guitar harmonies that feel threatening, ultimately degrading into white noise.
Not only does the song set the momentum forward and set the tone, but it also sets the scene: falling into the pits of hell. The songs walls of guitars, both heavy and light, send you spiraling into a bottomless pit, though that pit is full of light and specters. You fall down, watching your life play before your eyes before all becomes pitch black in the flash of an eye. And so, there you are: in hell.
'Stellar' follows suit, but instead of anger, you feel remorse: after watching your life play by, you see what you could have changed. The sweet strings and piano accompany you as you float aimlessly, unsure if you're falling down or moving at all. Starry lights float by you into the dark oblivion, your soul slowly degrading with the peace of the track. Once again, you fall into the crackle of distortion, but in a slow way. This song takes you through your slow put inevitable end. You remorse and you fade, like you were nothing to begin with.
A requiem can be described as an act of remembrance. The first half of this record is exactly that: remembering your life as if to prepare yourself for hell. The first half of the title track 'Requiem For Hell' continues the sentiment, but instead, your soul starts coming back together so you can be brought to hell. All of a sudden, it becomes your suffering had only just begin. Utter chaos breaks loose, drums crashing and guitars pounding heavily. You are in hell now, and at the mercy of it. Chaos reigns true, even in sentimental track 'Ely's Heartbeat', a tragic realization that there is no going back - this is what you get. It's an acceptance of sorts; hopeless yet understanding.
'The Last Scene' chimes beautifully with a conglomeration of strings and pianos, a light beat accompanying them along with reverberating guitar. It's mysterious, as if it's beckoning the devil: I'm here, now what? There's an emptiness at its core, and that's the acceptance. Now you have no hope, and thusly you act like so. You are now just another drone in the mass of hell, and there's no one to blame but yourself.
And thus is the story of Requiem For Hell. MONO can make beauty out of simple experimentation. There's nothing over done on this record, and still there's nothing underappreciated. Every part of the album is beautifully crafted, meticulously yet still instinctively put together for a raw, emotional story. Japan has done it again. Another amazing record from equally impressive band.
Favorite Tracks: Stellar, Death In Rebirth, The Last Scene
Least Favorite Tracks: Ely's Heartbeat
Rating: 86 / 100