Mondkopf‘s Hadès was released in February but has finally hit its proper season. This album is no secret; it has sold out at source, and one has to scour the net to track down the remaining vinyl and CD copies. It’s worth it. Hadès is so much smarter than the average dark electronic album that it should serve as a lesson to others: be creative or – in the words of The Amityville Horror – get out. The entire album is dramatic, soaked in synth, with crunchy undertones. The trumpets of the three-part title track are especially effective, lending it the regal tone of Revelation (7 angels, 7 trumpets, 7 plagues). Paul Régimbeau’s stated pedigree is techno, but this is the best industrial record we’ve encountered since Abstractive Noise’s of the Adder’s Bite. One can dance to this. One can die to this.
The backdrop of eternal damnation serves the material well. Mondkopf’s wisdom is in avoiding the obvious; sure, the album has a bright red cover, and yes, the album is dark, but this crimson music bleeds patches of sudden sweetness, such as the secondary themes of “Immolate”, which appear only in the final minute; or the bittersweet tinges of “We Watched the End”, which makes one think of the closing scenes of apocalyptic movies, in which lovers turn to each other to say one final word, only to be drowned out by an explosion of magma. Could things have been different? Could we have lived differently, loved differently? Now that the end times are near, it’s too late.
In Mondkopf’s rendition, Hades is not nine levels of unending torture, but a separation from all that is happy and good. One can hear the stars falling in “Absences”, one track before they are mentioned by name. An oppressive sadness falls upon the land. If there’s any hope, it’s to be found in the fact that the world’s finale is achingly beautiful. It’s the last lovely moment, the final coda, the end note. The final ember goes dark. (Richard Allen)