The Book of Fire – Mono Inc. (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It’s very easy to get this type of music wrong. This blend of classic rock drive and synth wave futurism, historical narratives and gothic drama has been done often but rarely well. For every 69 Eyes or Sabaton there are a dozen bands whose inspiration comes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer rather than Polidori’s Vampyre, from The History Channel rather than actual history. Thankfully Mono Inc. seems to draw inspiration from all the right places and this dark opening salvo from the album of the same name, their eleventh to date, deals with the suspicions and persecutions of medieval Europe, a time when the religious establishment sought to stamp out any thought or learning they deemed heretical. And they seemed to find an awful lot of it.

Such is the bleak setting for an album where each track is a chapter in the story and this first single and the accompanying Louder Than Hell, help set the scene for this epic and epically horrific story. An imaginary tale perhaps but one which threads historical realities through its sonic backdrop. And the key to the success of the single is the sweeping drama of the music, a dynamic which moves seemlesly between pounding tribal drums and delicate piano interludes, which balances of the powerful analogue deliveries and the deft digital washes and not least from the entwined vocals, the earthy and earthly power of Martin Engler and the angelic and otherworldly delicacy of drummer Katha Mia.

German bands seem to do this so much better than everyone else, something to do with their pagan roots I guess but if you want to find music which casts sonic spells, has the ability to transport you back to darker times and which is as rousing and anthemic as anything you have heard of late then Mono Inc. in general and Book of Fire in particular is for you.

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