Monologue EP

Written by: AP on 18/09/2013 23:15:54

Given that Mountaineer address a niche that hitherto no one else in Denmark have tried to capitalise on, they are able to introduce themselves with a clean sheet with their debut EP "Monologue", free from the pressure of domestic comparatives. Of course, beyond the Danish borders this wave movement to which they subscribe is no scarcely populated genre anymore, and with bands as frighteningly excellent as La Dispute and Touché Amoré spearheading the deluge, there is of course the ever-present question, "Can Mountaineer propose to match such revered acts on an international scale?"

Four songs of course do not provide enough qualitative evidence to answer that question in full, but even so the emotional onslaught of opening track "Courageous" does conjure a rather powerful impression. Out of the four tracks on the EP, it is undoubtedly the heaviest and least similar to the traditional wave sound of the bands mentioned in the preamble to this article, but courtesy of Johannes Emil Hansen's anguished screaming and regretful musing, it still bears the sentiment that is so central to this style of hardcore. Mathias Jaqué's double pedal foundation combined with the radiant guitar work of Steven Singh and Emil Rømer makes this song slightly reminiscent of European melodic hardcore à la Napoleon, which at first comes as a surprise to me, having thus far written Mountaineer down as a much less metallic proposition based on what I've heard from them in the live setting. There are elements of atmospheric post-rock in the vein of Envy at play, too, near the end of the track, when Singh & Rømer clean up the tone, rail up the reverb and combine with keyboard/sampling artist Jesper Ager for a soaring crescendo. "Losing Grip" at track three conforms to a similar composition, but it distinguishes itself as the pinnacle of the EP by blending the metal influences with the flair of emotive hardcore, and I absolutely love the crash into a duel of an exquisite drum pattern and Hansen's screaming of "Everyone I know is moving on / I've been stuck here way too long" just after the towering, bittersweet intro. Not to mention the clever intertwining of an almost uplifting lead melody near the end with the harrowing futility in Hansen's rhetoric.

My judgment of Mountaineer as a wave-y act becomes more justified cue the title track, and especially the final piece "Greyscale City". Both are slow in their execution, and tragic in their outlook, but where the latter drags its feet for a significant portion of its running length, flinging disheartening clean notes and spoken word before lumping a flood of noisy anxiety at the listener in a fashion not too dissimilar from, say, La Dispute's excellent song "King Park"; the former never quite reaches the climax it promises, and by spending too much time in the initial construction phase of that undelivered catharsis, the track dissolves as rather unrewarding on an otherwise solid EP. It's not bad per se, but Mountainere might have done well to compress it somewhat for a more powerful and immediate impact.

In any case, "Monologue" is an EP that, for all intents and purposes, needed to be written. It breathes fresh air into a domestic scene which has a regrettable tendency to reject change and shun innovation, and provides a fine introduction to a band who, if they continue in this fashion, are sure to emerge as one of the premier hardcore acts in Denmark - live and on record. And with such a perfectionist attitude toward song-writing, not to mention the high degree of potential already glistening across their songs, the future bodes well for Mountaineer in terms of international recognition as well.

Download: Courageous, Losing Grip, Greyscale City
For the fans of: Napoleon, The Saddest Landscape, Touché Amoré, Vales
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Release date 08.08.2013

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