Hey guys, since we didn’t review your 2013 debut ‘Run From The Light’ and the fact your newest effort ‘Gospel Of Despair’ is such a treat we need to do this interview. To introduce the band to our readers could you tell us a bit about the formative years? It seems it’s about two former Khang members hooking up again, right? And what’s the relation to The Dead Resurrected?
That’s exactly the case, Lee Baines (guitar) and myself had discussed bringing Khang back to life after about a decade of silence. We invited Damo (drums) to come and jam with us on a few tracks from the ‘Worship The Evil’ album. We had one rehearsal and realised straight away that it didn’t feel right. Luckily Lee had a few new riffs to work on. So in the first rehearsal we wrote a song called ‘Human Cull’. From that point on Khang was killed off and the start of Monolith Cult was born. We had a few more rehearsals and invited Izak Buxton to come down and play bass. This was the line-up that recorded our first album ‘Run From The Light’. The first album was received pretty well but as a band we knew that we needed to expand the sound to incorporate more melodies and harmonies. We tried out a few guitarist but they hadn’t even bothered to learn a full song so they were never invited back, this is when we got Wayne to come down, he had done his homework and helped expand the sound. So this was the line-up which was aiming to record ‘Gospel of Despair’.
Regarding The Dead Resurrected, Lee Baines, Izak Buxton and myself were members of that band. The Dead Resurrected were without a singer and I basically forced myself into the line-up so that I could start working with Lee again, which was my main aim. As good as the songs may have been in The Dead Resurrected it was obvious that the line up in the band was not right and was not going to last. We did a small UK tour with Solstice and the band basically started to unravel, there was a lack of professionalism with some ridiculous ego problems. Soon after this I left, the band broke up and Lee and myself discussed the Khang idea, which is where I believe we came in.
Lords Of Metal being a Dutch e-zine I have to ask why you chose the band name Monolith Cult? Here in the Netherlands we have a highly successful death metal act called The Monolith Deathcult. You weren’t familiar with them or afraid of any confusion?
Embarrassingly, I had never heard of them, Death Metal is not something that I really listen to, maybe other band members had heard of them, if they did, nobody mentioned it. We just thought ‘Monolith Cult’ was a great name, which encapsulated the world’s fucking obsession with Nuclear Weapons. The ‘Monolith’ to me is the mushroom cloud, and the ‘Cult’ are those deluded fools that believe that nuclear weapons are necessary part of the modern world. Sadly most people don’t know shit about Nuclear Weapons and their effects. Which is a travesty. When we created our Facebook page, one of the guys from ‘The Monolith Deathcult’ contacted us about the similarity, we replied and they were cool, we thought no one will ever know who we are and we liked the name so we carried on. And to be honest, our logos are drastically different and the names though similar are different, people can listen and read, so there should be no confusion.
Your debut was released by Future Noise Recordings and the new one by Transcending Records. Any particular reason for this switch of labels?
Dave from Future Noise was kind enough to release the first album and we were so pleased that he dug the band enough to get involved. But we never assumed that Dave would release the second album, we also knew that Dave had some really heavy issues going on which meant that he was out of the scene for a long time. We love Dave and the support he has given to us and so many other bands on the UK scene.
‘Gospel of Despair’ being released on Transcending was a somewhat happy accident, we never went looking for them, they found us. I believe that Mike Ramirez had seen the album artwork for ‘Gospel of Despair’ and that piqued his interest; he ended up finding the title track, which we had posted on YouTube, and Mike then got in touch with Lee. Since that first dialogue Transcending have been fucking awesome, and really supportive of the band.
You are shoe boxed into the epic doom metal category. Based on what I hear I would say your influences are a bit wider. To me you come across as a band that combines Black Sabbath, Maryland doom, epic doom, heavy metal and Crowbar-type sludge. That of course is my take on it. Can you tell us a bit more about the music that inspires/influences you?
For myself Deep Purple 70-76, Dio era Rainbow, Dio era Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are massive influences, though we may or may not sound like any of those bands. Lee loves Swedish Death Metal, early Paradise Lost, early Metallica, all eras of Black Sabbath and is currently enamoured with Mastodon. I think all the bands mentioned here and all the other bands we grew up listening to inspire in different ways, whether it is the classic metal/rock vocals of Dio, Gillan, Bruce Dickinson, or the quality of the riffs. A lot of the bands listed have some kind of epic quality to their sounds, songs and writing. We attempt in some small way to emulate what these masters laid down, and just try to do our own version of the things that we love.
Being an English doom metal band you do have a unique sound. I can’t think of any other British band that does what you do. How do you fit in within the scene? Do you feel any affiliation with other bands from the UK?
We appreciate that you think we have a unique sound, as this is something we have been working on. We have consciously been trying to get away from the general stoner/doom/sludge sound which is very popular in the UK at the moment. Not because we don’t like certain bands of that ilk, but because we wanted and needed to have our own identity within the Doom world. To be honest we have not consciously thought about whether or not we fit into the ‘scene’, we do what we do and hope people from all walks of metal and beyond will like it. Regarding affiliation with other bands, Solstice are certainly one band that we respect as they have never looked for acceptance from anyone in any scene. Rich (Walker, Solstice) writes what he writes and does what he does without concern for passing trends or bandwagons. You have to respect that. There are other bands such as Alunah that have their own niche and style and are great people. Serpent Venom are a band that we have had association with over the years, they are also are great group of people. To be honest after playing in bands since the late ‘80s many people and bands have fallen by the wayside, and you have to have admiration for their determination to keep on playing and creating original music.
I read somewhere the album is “a mantra on depression and fragility”. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Each song on ‘Gospel of Despair’ is either an insight or expression of the difficulties of living through, surviving after or coping with depression and other mental health conditions. I attempt to write lyrics that are meaningful to myself and hopefully to other people. I’m not trying to provide answers to those issues, but trying to voice the struggles and problems that come with suffering in this human form. One review stated that the lyrics were nihilistic, which I can understand to some extent, but the struggle with depression can render many things, including life, as meaningless. It is the fight to overcome this that gives meaning back to our lives. The songs also touch upon the era in which we live, I class it as a ‘golden age of useless fucks’. We live again with the prospect of more war and this time Nuclear Weapons are normalised in the media as a valid option to be used. Now that is fucking Nihilism right fucking there. Also the amount of poverty across the world and in our own locality is a cause for despair, when the 1% own half the world’s wealth. My expression of this is in the lyric ‘the impoverished lay dying whilst nothing gets done, this is the era of the selfish ones’. Overall the worldwide situation seems to be getting worse, but I hope that collectively we can overcome such odds that are stacked against us.
You recorded the album at Skyhammer studios with Conan’s Chris Fielding turning the knobs. Was he your first choice and are you happy with the cooperation? In addition it seems he has become one of the “go to guys” in the UK in recent years? A bit like Mags at the Academy studio in the 90s.
SkyHammer was definitely the first choice, we already knew they guys from Conan, and knew Chris from when he played in a band from Leeds called Agent of Morai. We really enjoyed recording with Chris, he has a great ear for anything that is slightly sharp or flat, even down to the amount of pressure put upon the guitar strings. He was also so supportive and enthusiastic in the studio, which is a great help, especially when you find it a struggle to relax into the studio environment. Chris is building a well-deserved name for himself. We were very happy with his co-operation and the outcome of the album. Regarding Mags and Academy studios you can certainly find a comparison with the high regard that he and now Chris have within the metal scene. Mags was fantastic to work with, Khang recorded 4 sets of demos with Mags in the late ‘90s, those were great days clouded by the sweetest of hash. We’ve not seen or heard of Mags for years, I’m guessing his fingernails are way out of control nowadays.
Drums were recorded by Dan Mullins (formerly of My Dying Bride and Bal Sagoth to name just 2 bands). This was strictly as a session member right? You knew your drummer Damo would return or is there more to tell?
Yes Dan was very gracious and amazingly cool to help out in the way that he did, he came on board and rehearsed with us and assisted in finalising a couple of structures in the songs, and his drum tracks on the album are fucking awesome. Damo left us in November 2015 due to family commitments, which we were all cool with. We had been writing a lot since the first album (2013) and had demoed quite a few tunes with Damo, overall we had written around 15 tunes, but some of the tunes just weren’t good enough and weren’t in the direction that we were heading. When Damo left we grounded to a halt and really struggled to find a drummer, we tried out a few guys but again they turned up without learning the songs, it seems some people’s egos and sense of their own talent is skewed to fuck. Then in January 2016 Dave Allen (Voorhees) came down and was fucking great, he demoed a couple of new songs with us, but then had to leave due to moving to another part of the country. This is when we got Dan in and got really focussed on tightening the songs and recording the album, which we did in September 2016. As soon as the album was recorded we were without a drummer again. It was seemed like we were never going to find a drummer. We then contacted a friend of ours called Aki who had recently taken up the drums, we got him down and he had the bare bones of the songs covered, and to show that we hadn’t fallen off the planet we managed to get a gig sorted as it had been 17 months since the band had played a gig. It was great to play again and we went back to just rehearsing. It was around this time that I bumped into Damo in Bradford who explained that he wanted to get back into drumming. I mean he was the original drummer and had left on good terms. I then chatted to Lee about seeing Damo and we knew we had to get him back in the band. Aki had been a real help but was still inexperienced and we were desperate to get back to the level we had been with Damo and Dan. It was a difficult thing to do but Aki was cool when we asked him to step down. When Damo came in for his first rehearsal it was like he had never left. As well as that he had learnt the songs we had written after he had left and fucking nailed them. Right then we knew we had made the right choice.
Another striking feature of the new album is the cover art. It’s quite different compared to the debut. So, can you tell some more about using the art by Dan Goldsworthy, who has worked with plenty other great acts.
Using Dan Goldsworthy was Lee’s idea. The first album cover was done by Rich Walker (Solstice), which was great and really fit the first album. Lee had different ideas for the second album and contacted Dan. When we saw the artwork that Dan had done we were blown away. His artwork for ‘Gospel of Despair’ is so fitting to the themes of the songs and the name of the band. Plus it had such an ‘80s metal vibe, which due to our ages is something that we grew up with. Dan had originally given Lee a draft version of the artwork and the only thing we said that had to be added was the mushroom cloud. The artwork has been as important as the music this time around as a lot of people really love what Dan has done, as do we.
I think I have covered everything. Anything else you might want to add, like future plans?
Can I just say thank you so much Pim for this interview, I’ve really enjoyed answering the questions. For people that take the time to read the interview, many thanks to you whether you enjoy what has been written or whether you think I am talking shit. Either way thanks for your time. Look out for our first video which should be out in the new year, it’s for the first track from the album ‘Disconnection Syndrome’. It’s low budget and going to be grim/epic as fuck, if you are ever trapped in your basement or nuclear bunker after the bomb has dropped, this is for you. Remember the highest yield of Nuclear Warheads in the world at the moment in 5 Megatons, which is 500 times stronger than the Hiroshima bomb that instantly killed 100,000 people. Think about that and have a nice day.