After listening to a varying degree of output from Mika Vanio I have to admit to approaching this latest release with a small amount of trepidation.  The fact that he has collaborated with Joachim Nordwall in this instance does however bring something else to the table.

Opening up with a thumping heartbeat of bass resonance and gritty distorted guitar, ‘Alloy Ceremony’ provides the aesthetics of doom metal under a hypnotic mask of Dark Ambient and No-Wave screeching noise.  The effect is engaging enough to keep you listening for the full 11 minutes without any hesitation and they have to be applauded for that alone.

‘Live at the Chrome Cathedral’ is up next and whilst openly being a fan of outright noise, this is track displays the first warning signs that ‘Monstrance’ may not be all it’s cracked up to be.  The sounds are a dense wash that whilst obviously built up of many a layer, are completely lost amongst the rumblings and guitar feedback and buried so deep as to become a pointless mess.

Vanio has always struck me as one of those artists who will either provide you with something from the book of genius, or on the flip side of the coin, something ridiculously stupid; I can’t help but feel that ‘Midas in Reverse’ with its pointless scraping and minimal piss-taking, is his doing.

After the tedious follow through of ‘Irkutsk’, ‘Praseodymium’ luckily plays this duo’s trump card.  With a gloriously offset balance of layered ambience and beautiful soaring harmonics it begs the question as to why the whole album couldn’t have been this good.  If the talent is there, it’s excruciating to comprehend what could have been had these guys made the effort over this entire release.

Overall I was left dissatisfied with the end result; there is a feeling of talent being squandered as when Vanio and Nordwall play well, they really do excel and it’s a great shame considering what could have been.



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