Some things are worth the wait and one of those things is The Dark Retreat by Mad Monks. The band comprised of James Edel (guitar), Matt Larson (bass) and Eric Dirks (guitar/drums) formed in 2006 and were influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and King Crimson (I would argue I hear more King Crimson than Hendrix on The Dark Retreat). It took them eight years for The Dark Retreat, which is an album about the learning and death cycles.
The album has a great flow from beginning to end and it's obvious the band took a lot of time to think about how each track would flow into the next. I encourage you to listen to this album from beginning to end as it was intended.
Up first is “Aphelion” which revolves around slide guitar. It serves as a good intro to the album, which showcases the technical and creative ability of the guitarist. “Helionauts” is where the band comes in to join the fun. There is a bit of a grunge vibe once the vocalist starts to sing and I was reminded of Chris Cornell. “Helionauts” is a highlight with a number of engaging crescendos.
“Impasse” is an onslaught of notes with plenty of adrenaline to boot. The song moves fast and could be considered epic. “Asthenia” is unlike anything else that came before. It’s sparse with not much more than acoustic guitar, bells and pads. The overall feeling is a bit dark and mysterious. “Apsis” is another song that sounds like nothing else on the album. It starts with throat or overtone singing that eventually gets layered with guitar. There are very interesting things going on in this song.
As the album comes to a close there isn’t any other way to describe the songs but as epic. “Hades” is a ten-minute song you won’t want to miss but the centerpiece is “Chimera” which is over twenty-five minutes in length.
The Dark Retreat is a great album. There are very few albums out there that have as much attention to detail and the kind of seamless flow this one has.
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