Sonic Reign is a black metal duo hailing from Germany, and although they've been around as far back as 1997, it wasn't until 2013 that their sophomore observation was unleashed. Entitled Monument In Black, this is the follow-up to 2006's Raw Dark Pure - an album that went largely unnoticed by many listeners, but still garnered enough attention to warrant a re-release from Metal Blade Records the following year. Monument In Black is my introduction to Sonic Reign's music, and I am pretty damn impressed. While it may not be a revolution for black metal as a whole, this is a punishing old school release that stands as one of the genre's strongest efforts from early 2013.
Monument In Black primarily resides in old school black metal territory, but many of the riffs have a groovy tinge that bring acts like Satyricon to mind. This isn't a one-dimensional blast beat and tremolo picking assault by any stretch, and the rhythmic diversity heard throughout the album is a large part of what makes it so enjoyable. The tracks on Monument In Black tend to linger around the six minute mark, but they never feel stale or repetitive - each song features a barrage of well written riffs and some exceptional execution. The musicianship is impressive, especially considering that Sonic Reign has only two members, and the production is clear while still remaining edgy and unpolished. Benjamin Borucki's vocals might actually be what grabs me most, as his crisp annunciation and commanding shriek adds a level of power to the music that is absent from many other black metal releases.
Across the board, Monument In Black is a successful observation from Sonic Reign. Its atmospheres are bleak, its songwriting is powerful, and it also has diverse riff structures that allow it to stand out from the crowd. Though Monument In Black might not be an essential pickup for black metal fans, it's the sort of quality release that should definitely impress its listener. Sonic Reign has returned, and they're back with a 'bang'!
1. Abhorrence Vs. Scum (5:58)
2. Clouds Above the Desert (6:37)
3. The Whisperer in the Dark (5:41)
4. Monument in Black (8:23)
5. A Doctrine Unreachable (5:41)
6. Daily Nightmare Injected (5:53)
7. Soul Flagellation (7:51)