Monosoul is a 2 piece post-prog rock band hailing from Damascus, Syria that started off in September 2012 by the hands of Anas Hajjar and Obay Sha’arani.
Monosoul released their debut EP entitled “Astral is Not the Word” in May, 2013; which contains 4 of the most eargasmic songs that have crossed my path in the post-rock/metal days.
The EP doesn’t have the best recording quality out there since it was recorded in a humble home studio, nor does it have the most complicated music-writing, but I believe that that’s the point behind it. It’s simple, short, and to the point. So, this review will base off of these facts and will be a personal opinion. The EP starts off with a track called “This Will Hurt the Other You”, and it is a great 2-and-a-half-minutes intro, everything blends in with the other. With a snippet from a poem of Muhammad Al-Maghout, it gives you this sensation of strength and helplessness at the same time, as it conveys the message of “he who does not belong”. It goes from electronic music to post rock and prog elements, shifting back and forth, forcing you to wander off in your mind, in the majesty of every note played throughout the track, and throughout every word said. It’s built upon a great solo-esque performance, layered atop a bass-line following that same line, and a minimal drum-line to hold everything together. Monosoul insists to bring out the best features in both the players’ styles in their respective instrument domains, moving towards a more original signature sound.
The EP then takes you to the second track, and my favorite track off of this release, entitled “The Subliminal It”. This track is just beyond description for me. It forced me into a trance of thought, and I couldn’t stop listening to it the very first time I heard it. You see, this is a song that you can’t simply look at in minor detail, you have to see the big picture – and the big picture here is emotion and elevation. So, how I feel when I listen to it: this track makes me want to get reacquainted with the deepest cravings of mankind, indulge in nature and unite with it as one, die and live again to reach nirvana. This track contains a snippet from a lecture by Mahatma Gandhi, I believe it explicitly states what I feel as well. This may sound like an overstatement, but I deeply urge you to listen to the music. The track is, again, wrapped around a duo of guitar and bass, each playing their own lines in harmony. Drumming is a conventional post-rock jam, the solos are remarkable – not too crazy, not too tame. The vocal elevation towards the end of the track turns from a decently sang shout, to a raspy vocal solo.
The track “Circular Journey in Square Gardens” comes along to tie the EP together, as if the world is nothing but a playground for ones of power. Pain of an infant, a crushed soul of a mid-aged man at the loss of his loved one, all arising together to form this new level of awareness and beauty in the world, making life colorful, upbeat, with a sense of little agony to keep everything equally balanced. Amazing. Starting off with a guitar solo, the mood of this one sticks out from the bunch; it’s faster and features some really well played tremolo picking, layered atop jazzy prog drumming, and a nice little vocal line towards the middle. With the constant music shifts and playing styles, this song falls short on naught, and delivers a well thought-out and performed track in the post-rock and prog departments. The back story behind it, being personal, gives it a whole lot more meaning.
The EP finishes off with the fourth and last track “Echoes of a Dream”, and really, the name speaks for itself. It’s a four minute track of peacefully cheerful post-rock, a great ending to the EP. It’s quite dreamy and hope-oriented, starting off with some clean guitars playing stuff from the previous track, incorporated with keyboards and atmospheric wails, and a guitar solo towards its end with conventional tremolo sprees and a crazy atmosphere backing it up, it completes the whole thing. It serves its name right. The track then finishes out with a simple bassline and a keyboard tune to top it, until it fades out, leaving you hungry for more.
Throughout the EP, the guys from Monosoul really stand up to their name, where the tracks turn from being bass-oriented to guitar/keyboard oriented. It’s like a puzzle and the instruments are completing one another and not going for the conventional rhythm-lead monotony.
Some of the cons about this EP though, is that at just some points the guitars sound a tad sharp, and it doesn’t have enough vocals, especially like those heard on the “Subliminal It” and “Circular Journeys Through Square Gardens” tracks. I think that made everything a bit more human and can make you feel the music to the last second, not get overwhelmed with the electronica elements, etc. In such a genre, I think to feel something human is quite crucial, especially the way that Monosoul plays it.
My hat is off to Monosoul, they’ve astonished and revived the Syrian rock scene with this great release. They’re definitely on the map and on the way to greater successes. I give this EP an 8/10 for the aforementioned reasons, but it lacks nothing in song-writing and performance!