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Music Review

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Beyond the Past


Artist: Mono
Label: Pelagic Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 19 March 2021

For two decades, Mono have honed their unique form of orchestral rock. Over the past 20 years they have produced 10 studio albums and entertained fans with their live concerts, which are typically more subdued in instrumentation – and more supercharged in volume and voltage. Pelagic Records release the band's new live album, Beyond the Past, recorded at the Barbican Centre in London on 14 December 2019...

Half of the tracks (six out of the twelve) on Beyond the Past are taken from Mono's 2019 album Nowhere Now Here. Live albums are a funny thing. I don't usually enjoy them unless I was actually at the gig. The production values are obviously not going to be as polished as a studio album, nor on the whole is the performance. In the early stages Beyond the Past suffers with out of tune instruments and an off key singer ('Breathe'). This is stuff you may overlook live, but sounds truly awful when listened to at home.

The concert was designed to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary, and to make it a special event they selected a memorable lineup of old and new friends, including fellow Japanese underground icons, Boris and Envy, as well as French post-metal legends, Alcest, and UK collaborators A.A. Williams and Jo Quail.

Personally, I found their particular brand of orchestral rock to be a little on the bland side. Every now and then it shows a spark of originality and depth, but for the most part this just plods on aimlessly. I'm not sure why they focused on their new album so heavily (other than to promote the then new album Nowhere Now Here) as the older material is richer and more interesting. While I wasn't a huge fan, obviously their fanbase will lap this up.


Nick Smithson

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