Written by Jessica Klausing
Monks of Doom are back on tour. Yes, you read this correctly. The surrealist progressive rockers are back in support of their newest album, The Bronte Pin. This album is the first of new material released in 25 years. The long wait, though highly frustrating, was indeed worth it. Victor Krummenacher (vocals, bass, and guitar), David Immerglück (vocals, guitar, bass, and mandolin), Greg Lisher (guitar), and Chris Pederson (drums, percussion) pulled listeners into a post-rock world of cryptic hysteria and psychedelic instrumentals at LA’s Café NELA.
From the psychedelia opening chimes of “Cherry Blossom Baptism,” off the 1991 album, Meridian, this was a strong performance with Lisher as the driving force, well supported in rhythm by Pederson on the back beat. Krummenacher and Immerglück kept the crowd totally encapsulated and mesmerized with their intricate guitar magic.
If there was ever any doubt, this powerful opener just proved that the Monks are still in fine eccentric musical form. The backdrop acted as a screen for colorful patterns that worked with the simple yet effective lighting to immerse the audience. The sound was good despite a few minor issues with the mic levels in the beginning. Overall the setup made for quite an exhilarating night.
The set followed with the spacey rock instrumental “In Anticipation Of the Pope,” off the first album, Soundtrack To The Film: “Breakfast On The Beach Of Deception,” the essence of the distinct MOD sound that brought the band to the forefront in 1987.
Next up “Hieroglyphic” ventures into the realms of Ancient Egyptian psychedelia storytelling with Immerglück overzealously proclaiming, “the sky is pregnant!”
The band seemed in great spirits with Krummenacher and Immerglück bouncing back and forth between playful stage banter introducing the newer tracks. They displayed their esteemed sense of dark humor by casually warning us that things were about to take an ominous turn.
“The Bastards Never Show Themselves” is an eerie moody piece and the way it is delivered exalts the gloom, the doom, and the angst. It’s a heavy bass thump that takes refuge in your mind and refuses to leave. “Up From the Cane,” another new dark one, delves into more heavy driving riffs. The emotion and aggressive energy of the music create a wave of unsettling tension.
As the night progressed on the Monks went back in time to revisit old favorites in their catalog, including “Going South,” “Oh Well,” and “Ukranian Technological Faith Dance.”
The biggest crowd reaction came from the powerhouse instrumental “Vaporize Your Crystals.” This song has a fantastic melodic dual between Lisher and Immerglück. The two attack it with spirited intensity and exuberance. The music ascends, never ceasing, never relenting, and communicating a driving and creative vitality in everything they do.
The set also included the riveting rendition of Syd Barrett’s “Let’s Split,” off the EP, The Insect God, before returning to The Bronte Pin for the ultimate guitar anthem “Osiris Rising,” which features a feverishly stellar guitar solo by Lisher.
Of course, no one was leaving without an encore and the band returned to close out the show with “Voodoo Vengeance,” from The Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company.
The Monks of Doom tour runs until May 24 in Kingston ,NY. Prog rock fans are highly encouraged to attend but be warned: It’s bizarre, dark, euphoric, but mostly importantly – It’s alive!
Cherry Blossom Baptism
In Anticipation Of The Pope
The Bastards Never Show Themselves
Up From The Cane
Vaporize Your Crystals
The Better Angels Of Our Nature
The Sinking Of The Essex
Ukranian Technological Faith Dance
Review and Photos by Jessica Klausing, Writer/Editor On The Flipside Music