Imonolith – Progressions


Canadian metal supergroup, Imonolith, released their debut in 2020 and worked through the pandemic on a follow-up EP. This evolved into a long play record, and now the band are ready to present album number two. So far, so good. But there’s a catch – only four of the ten tracks qualify as original material. What possessed them to promote their latest release as a sophomore album is desperate and deluded. Let’s be clear: Progressions is an unnecessary outtakes and rarities compilation with four new tracks.

In terms of quality, the music pulsates with the right amount of zeal you’d expect from an outfit featuring the colossal Ryan ‘RVP’ Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend Project) on drums and the heroic voice of Jon Howard (Threat Signal). We’d have no reason to criticise the band if they stuck with their original plan to record an EP. Opener, ‘Angevil’, mixes hard rock groove and metallic crunch in the opening riffs and thrives on RVP’s precise footwork. Howard always had that husky rock voice beloved of blockbuster soundtracks in the early 2000s, and here he strains his larynx as if fronting a major label nu metal band from the Napster era. Imagine an overproduced Lamb of God with one hand on the MIDI synthesiser and a disdainful look at a Billboard 200 chart from 1998 with Orgy in the top thirty. It might even remind you of Anthrax at the turn of the century.

The two covers on this record are admirable but not essential listening. Björk will have no reason to dislike the band’s interpretation of ‘Army and Me’, and Trent Reznor will be thankful they didn’t butcher ‘We’re in this Together’. Including a remix of ‘The Reign’ from their 2020 album at track four seems like another excuse to parade their collaboration with Meshuggah’s Jens Kidman rather than a useful journey point on the record. The main hook has a sledgehammer groove, but it will do little to convince you that industrial metal has moved on since Prong’s 1996 album.

Imonolith’s fanbase will be much more enamoured with the celestial folk passages of ‘The Lesson’ before it mutates into a lean industrial war machine. The riffs are sharper and more reliant on syncopation, and the good cop/bad cop vocals register their greatest performance here. Howard’s voice still has a muscular heroism to it that would receive radio play if the music supporting him was not so aggressive. It’s almost as if the band’s awareness of a missed opportunity justifies the title track. This one is a clever ballad with a subtle layer of electronic noise permeating through the cascading guitar arpeggios.

The fact the last three cuts are demo versions invalidates them as superfluous bonus tracks. That’s the main problem with this record – it’s clumsy and disjointed. We know that supergroups have limited time in their busy schedules and often rely on enthusiasm to reach the finish line. Let’s hope Imonolith learn from their mistakes here and give the fans a proper sophomore album on their next outing.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 20/05/2022

Record Label: Self Released

Standout tracks: Angevil, The Lesson

Suggested Further Listening: Textures – Phenotype (2016), The Defaced – Charlatans (2022), Synastry – Dividing the Double Helix (2021)