"Majestic" is a word often used to describe Mono, and this record, the band’s fifth, will not challenge us to avoid using it. The huge wash of noisy guitars overshadows on Hymn to the Immortal Wind but never overwhelms the more subtle colors of the tracks, or the addition here and there of flute, tympani and a rather large chamber orchestra.
Any of the seven tracks are enough to shred your senses and clear out room for new ones. “Ashes in the Snow” builds to an almost unbearable peak of sonic beauty, while “Burial At Sea” takes on a mythical tale, with towering guitars and orchestra that is at once melancholy and defiant, like the battle it describes. (“Burial at Sea” is a key track, as it incorporates all that is familiar and sweeping about the band but points to new depths of cinematic grandeur. In fact, its finale sounds like a slow death scene from a Peckinpah or Godfather flick.) “Everlasting Light” ends the record with a heavy jam that leaves me spent and sweaty.
Mono’s been around for only 10 years, but it seems the band can do no wrong, at least so far. Hymn to the Immortal Wind is typically spiritual and meditative, using noise as a dark abyss where you can find enlightenment. In lesser hands, a fatal triteness might sink the attempt. But the members of Mono know the power of volume to save.