October 29, 2013

Dying of the Light - Monolithium

Written by Craig Hayes.

The world is awash in environmental devastation and social degradation; but hell, just consume, consume, and consume – it’ll all be okay. Press play on GTA 5 and ignore that politicians are busy selling your future to gluttonous mega-corporations. Just slap on a smile, plug into the anesthetizing matrix, and dismiss the plight of capitalism's countless victims while you’re at it. At least until they're clawing at your door.

Still, it's not all bad news, right?

There is resistance out there, with rowdy bands launching incendiary tirades, and spitting truth into the face of power. Sonic subversives aplenty warn of the storm that's going to devastate humankind unless we wrest control of our greed and superficiality, and you can definitely mark down New Zealand industrial duo Dying of the Light as one of those strident voices.

Dying of the Light was formed in the mid-00s by Rangi Powick (vocals/guitar/programming) and Chris Rigby (vocals/bass); the duo had previously explored musical slaughterhouses with their sludge and grind band, Chapel of Gristle, in the mid-90s. However, Dying of the Light is here to point out where the harsh reality of humankind's current course, and all our accompanying failings, are going to lead us.

Dying of the Light's latest four-song EP, Monolithium, clangs and crashes, and gnaws at the nerves – with strychnine-laced aggression. Mastered by James Plotkin, a man well versed in handling such heavy ventures, Monolithium is the band’s best release yet. It's a big step up from Dying of the Light's self-titled debut EP from 2010, and Monolithium's release was accompanied by a superb apocalyptically themed video for the title track, which was posted by a stack of sites online.

The EP's songs, “Monolithium”, "Tribulation", "Privatise the Sun", and a cover of New Zealand band Shihad's "Factory", all speak of ruinous machinations and brutal scenarios. And DIY industrial doom, influenced by artistic insurgents, is what Dying of the Light delivers. Godflesh would be one reference point for a band that's inspired Dying of the Light’s sound. But you can also add in the eccentric streak of New Zealand masters of abrasive noise, such as The Skeptics, along with echoes of JG Thirlwell's jarring endeavors, or the scrap metal hurricane of Einstürzende Neubauten. Dying of the Light’s fusion of the biological and mechanical isn’t really one thing or another, it’s just a stentorian mix overall. Probably best summed up by the band’s own chosen description: "Monolithic slabs of heavy as fuck ass-kickery".

There's no industrial-lite or manufactured angst with Dying of the Light, and the band isn't interested in selling a lie. Monolithium is all grimy and gritty, a portentous pandemonium dosed with sci-fi speculations – projecting ugly pictures of broken futures. On the title track, corrosive riffs and mechanised percussion rain down, while dual-vocals bellow that we're on our knees already, being "reprogrammed" and "medicated", while our "existence is winding down". "Tribulation" brings a grinding dirge, with caustic vocals howling around a militaristic drum attack, and bombarding noise. "Privatise the Sun" sees contorted shoegaze mix with razor-edged experimentalism, and cruelly vitriolic lyrics. On "Factory", Dying of the Light cuts straight to the vein of darkness in the original tune – with sheet-metal percussion, thick bass rumbles, and icy riffs dehumanizing and then obliterating the flock.

It's been a big year for harsh and heavy New Zealand bands, and Monolithium is another in an increasingly long line of releases from the nation’s shores well worth seeking out. It's a defiant and angry EP – as all such metallic broadsides should be – but the best thing about Monolithium is its mutinous musicality. It demolishes the lies of modernity by using its own machinery against it, and that's exactly the kind of rabble-rousing uprising we should always support.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Check out Craig's interview with Dying of the Light over at his blog Six noises.

  1. I love the extreme phasing effect in the title track. It should be cheesy, but it sounds awesome.

  2. Tremendous. Each track brings a unique and powerful groove.