There's nothing particularly innovative about the band's new album, I, Monarch. If guitarist-vocalist Erik Rutan was being creatively stifled in Morbid Angel (he left to lead Hate Eternal full-time), it's hard to tell from this disc. The thing that makes I, Monarch one of the year's best death-metal albums is its head-down blunt force. Each of the record's 10 songs prominently features the kind of cement-mixer guitar riffs, high-pitched squealing leads, and skull-cracking drums that the Florida death-metal scene made famous in the late '80s and early '90s. Rutan and his cohorts -- particularly drummer Derek Roddy, formerly of Nile and Malevolent Creation -- know exactly what they want to do, and they succeed. This is a record that makes no concessions to fair-weather fans; it's for the death-metal faithful, who will surely consider I, Monarch a classic.
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