In a brilliant assessment of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, critic Dave Marsh wrote that classical rock would never succeed simply by mating the complexity of one musical form to the volume of another. More recently, there has been no greater evidence of Marsh's wisdom as Metallica shredding away while a symphony orchestra panted behind them, attempting in vain to look "established." But Japan's Mono is the lone counter argument. Produced, engineered and generally harassed by Steve Albini, Mono take a different road. Instead of attacking the string section, they allow the crescendos to set the scene and then they build upon it until the entire "song" is one heavy, deafening, nearly incomprehensible, breathtakingly gorgeous "composition". It is as if Husker Du found common ground with the Kronos Quartet. Melodic, sometimes pretty and, by the end, always thunderous, Mono have created a Frankenstein that doesn't have a defective brain.


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