Amebix - Monolith [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Monolith [reissue] (2008)

Moshpit Tragedy

Amebix are re-forming. Yes, that Amebix: the smelly Motörhead- and Discharge-worshipping godfathers of crust; the first band to combine hardcore punk and the primordial elements of black metal; the forgers of the foul-smelling network of activists, anarchists and holier-than-thou vegans that comprise one of punk's most extensive international scenes. In order to commemorate this new beginning (not to mention to fuck over the various labels that refuse to pay them), the members of Amebix have graciously decided to "bomb the music industry" and are offering their previously hard-to-find second album, Monolith, as a "pay what you can" download via Canada's Moshpit Tragedy Records.

In the mid-to-late `80s, dozens of hardcore and punk bands released the often-cursed "heavy metal second or third LP." From what I had read, Monolith was almost universally derided as Amebix's dreaded "metal album": a straight-up collection of thrash tunes that paled in comparison to the crust-defining Arise!. Upon actually hearing the album, it's a relief to discover that Monolith is no How We Rock, Do We Really Want to Hurt You? or Grave New World. Amebix's already metallic style, which originally consisted of drunk-punk takes on the simplest Venom and Celtic Frost / Hellhammer riffs, doesn't lose much with the minimal added soloing and metal beats. There is a little added speed, which takes away somewhat from the heaviness of the music, but sporadic D-beats make the album a little more varied. Monolith isn't the instant classic that Arise! was, but it's a very good crossover album that's firmly rooted in anarcho-punk ethics. After three listens, nothing immediately sticks in my mind, but it's certainly enjoyable while listening.

For the "packaging" of this reissue, Moshpit Tragedy has actually put a decent amount of thought into what makes a good music download. The .zip file includes a printable "record sleeve," with the original album artwork (not the shitty "Amebix face" one -- the scary monster one), and a track listing. The printout even has instructions about how to fold it into an actual "sleeve," so you don't have to use one of those cheap-ass consumer jewel cases. The download also comes with a full lyrics sheet and some liner notes by vocalist/bassist Stig, which is a nice touch.

For what it is -- the less-celebrated second album by a classic band -- Monolith is well worth having. While previous import-only European pressings went for as much as US$35, this one costs only as much as you can afford, whether that be $10 Canadian, or $0. While it's tempting to pay nothing for the album, please keep in mind that Amebix most likely gets next to nothing from Alternative Tentacles or Heavy Metal Records for the rest of their catalog. Do them a favor and donate, and you'll get a pretty good album in return.