Mono - Oath album

MONO – Oath (Album Review)

Mono band 2024

Sometimes sound vibrates within our souls so intensely, words just get in the way. That is where MONO comes in. A Japanese band intent on striking this very real chord in each of us, MONO have been leaders in instrumental Rock music since 1999. A part of what some may call the Post-Rock movement, if you are set on putting the band inside a sub-genre, they are really a Contemporary Classical band. A high compliment, it is all brought together by standard Rock-n-Roll tools (mostly guitars, drums, bass, and some piano), but also the use of less commonly used instruments, such as a glockenspiel. 

Creating a sound that truly is uniquely moving and highly emotional, MONO initially grabbed a niche audience’s attention back in 2001 with their debut album Under the Pipal Tree. From here, the band has steadily and consistently built a legacy over the course of eleven studio full-lengths, seven EPs, plus their 2022 soundtrack album, My Story, The Buraku Story. Only the tip of the iceberg, MONO’s alluring appeal has expanded with each passing release; including split albums with the likes of American band Pelican, all compounded by their exhilarating live shows. Featuring a core of players – founding Guitarist Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto, Rhythm Guitarist Hideki ‘Yoda’ Suematsu, and Bassist Tamaki Kunishi, joined in 2018 by Drummer Dahm Majuri Cipolla – now in 2024 MONO are back with their new studio album Oath.

Oath, their twelve overall full-length, and set for release on June 14th via Temporary Residence Ltd., emerges simultaneously as they celebrate their 25th anniversary. An impressive accomplishment, as alluded to, much has not only happened within the sphere of MONO over twenty-five years, but also around the entire planet. Then, a volcanic eruption no one could seek shelter from, back in 2020 worldwide lockdowns left us cold and detached. What you might call the tipping point of society’s fragile nature, thankfully MONO continued to state true to capturing the human spirit within music.

Doing that yet again, Oath offers a very out-of-body experience through various movements that provoke deep introspection into your own life experience. Beautiful, like much of all MONO’s music, the lack of lyrics or a human voice allow you to connect on an even more personal level; because there are no pretenses in regards to an individual’s ideas… just the sounds that allow you to create a plot. Perhaps you are someone reaching a crossroad in life, and are unsure which way to go, or, maybe you are someone with deep-seeded regrets on past mistakes. Whatever the case might be, the music of Oath offers you a chance to find peace in yourself and solace that a moment does not define you.

A lot to conceptualize, that is truly the experience of listening to MONO’s Oath. Consisting of eleven songs, and running at 71 minutes, it is really something to consume as a complete piece. A soundscape where you decide the ending, of course, the emotions involved will vary based on the individual, but universally it will make everyone feel alive. Done so with delicate instrumentation that is dressed with lovely melodies and atmosphere, each song reaches a crescendo at just the right moments. With intricate detail placed on the dynamics, the textures are bountiful, but this heavy-hand of subtle qualities allows for the intense, distorted guitar driven Rock portions to beam more effectively. 

Overall, the music MONO makes is extremely difficult to explain in words…. because after all, they can only get in the way. If you need to know anything, it is that MONO continues to remind us just how beautiful the human experience can be… even in our darkest moments. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Oath 5 out of 5 stars.

Mono - Oath
Mono – Oath / Temporary Residence Ltd. (2024) 

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