Mönarch

Plan B, Malmö - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

On one of the year’s first sunny and warm days, we were heading down an obscure basement in the industrial district of Malmö. Down into cool darkness, to listen to some slower than thou doom. First up was the French band Mönarch. Or Monarch!. Or Monarch. However you choose to write it though, there can be no doubt as to what they’re about.

The small and low stage was exceedingly crowded, what with the band having no less than five members. At the beginning of the show, the mood was set, with Mic ‘MicHell’ Bidegain (bass/vocals) asking for the two frontlights to be switched off, and the backlights to be turned red. The frontlights were killed, but the colour change in the back proved a bigger mouthful, and was eventually dropped. At the same time, Emilie ‘Eurogirl’ Bresson (vocals/electronics) was lighting a large number of candles at the front of the stage, as well as on her instrument - a brave feat, considering the cramped space the band had to work with, but the visual atmosphere gained by this was not to be mistaken.
The first song started off, well, slowly goes without saying, but calmly, with Eurogirl chanting in French (I believe) and it could very well have been Of Night, With Knives, the opener of their latest album, Never Forever.
Throughout, the music changed character often, from the calm chanting of the beginning to a deeper pit of despair and deprivation, where the male portion of the band got to unleash some unholy heaviness, and especially Bidegain got to show off some performing - aggressive headbanging (although still in time with the slow music) and powermoves with the bass supplemented the bite the music delivered here.
In another song, or section of a song - what do I know - the tempo was again calm, with only a bit of drumming and a soft guitar playing, and we saw all of the members not currently active in playing squatting down, only to rise up when it was their time to do something. A nice change o’ pace in the performance, if you ask me.

The basement wasn’t exactly filled for Mönarch’s gig, nor was anyone crowding up against the stage. There was a respectable distance between band and fans, and only a few nodded their heads from time to time, to the beat of the music.
Yet, it would seem that Mönarch was gaining some foothold with the Swedish audience, they received loud cheers and applause at the end of the show, and end that came about very much like a reverse of the beginning, with a similarly built song, perhaps Lilith, the final song on Never Forever, and finally Eurogirl slowly blowing out the candles.
Not knowing the band from before, except for a short listen in connection to the concert, I can’t say I got gripped by what I saw or heard - Mönarch played their part well enough, and the film-nerd in me got a small kick out of the song where Eurogirl was saying “warriors, come out and play” (taken, of course, from the 1979 film The Warriors), but overall I just wasn’t hooked. Later listens have revealed a more interesting side to them than this gig could muster, but at the time, I could only look forward to the main event of the evening.

Mönarch

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