Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mono - Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

Mono have long been one of the better large post-rock bands, offering up a slightly heavier take on the standard high-low formula, but they've been more or less rehashing ever since One Step More and You Die came out in 1993. While Hymn to the Immortal Wind doesn't show a huge amount of innovation, it does flesh out their (already entertaining) sound enough to prove worth listening to for those whose faith has fled.

There's not a whole lot to say about the band's portion of the music beyond the fact that it's oh-so-slightly more professional sounding than before. Delay-swathed, tremolo-churning movements gather, rising up to stirring heights before being torn down, each track a recounting of succession and revolt. It's classic, practically cliche by now, yet Mono still manage to pull it off damn well. However, there is a noticeable change on Hymn to the Immortal Wind: namely, the heightened orchestral presence. Claiming shotgun, the full chamber orchestra on hand here jumps right in, adding a new layer to Mono's style that fits quite naturally and lends a stateliness to the waves of crashing guitars or even, at times, completely replaces them. Expanding on the premise of their split with World's End Girlfriend, Hymn to the Immortal Wind shows a more refined blend of neoclassical post-rock that never lets one element trump the other. This isn't post-rock with violins, and neither is it violins with post-rock - each aspect is balanced, playing off of the other in a purely integrated fashion. It's an elegant take on the Mono style that retains their distinct sound while still making Hymn to the Immortal Wind stand out from it's predecessors.

While they don't seem anxious to move beyond their established comfort zone, Mono have still released a riveting album, proving once again that their style is far from broken - Hymn to the Immortal Wind is certainly going to be one of the best post-rock offerings of the year.

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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