Review: Monumental Figures – Agony (The Chaos Noise, Apr 5)

Even if I wanted to nitpick (and I don’t, for once) the only significant flaw I could find in Agony is that it’s way too damn easy to get lost in. Wall noise is almost always great music to play while reading or working—especially if you’re in a place with a lot of distracting sounds—because it’s loud enough to drown out unwanted ambience yet sufficiently minimal to avoid being a distraction itself, but this three-plus-hour monstrosity is so mysteriously magnetic that it frequently absorbs my full attention without my even knowing it, and all of a sudden half an hour has gone by since I’ve typed a single word. The only album from Moscow project Monumental Figures so far this year, and the first that isn’t a single self-released hour-long track adorned with a plain black cover, Agony is unassuming in its genius; when “Deadly Silence” first materializes it seems like a fairly conventional crunch-crush affair, but upon continued listening the wall’s spectacular density becomes progressively more apparent. Churning coils of heavyweight distortion both surround and invade the center channel; overstuffed layers boil and buck under each others’ stifling pressure; an impossibly forceful upward momentum like an eternal eruption becomes palpable. The following “Exhumation” feels very much like a contrastive response to the piece that precedes it; the noise is much rounder, more grimy and sluggish like decomp-slime oozing out of a casket, but no less enthralling. In turn, the concluding “Fresh Flesh,” aside from having one of the most addicting titles I’ve seen in a while, sputters with constrained dirt-caked crumble that brings the ambitious suite to a fitting close. To say Agony is far from the worst way to spend an eighth of a day would be an understatement.

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