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Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You’re a young kid ruffling through some old records, maybe your dad’s, maybe at a record store. You happen across a beat-up sleeve featuring four figures, decked out in all black, with studded necklaces and facepaint. You’ve seen these figures before, sometimes stomping across a landscape, sometimes surrounded by smoke and brandishing impossibly cool looking instruments. Since you’re a naive youngster, you immediately assume that these guys must be playing some heinously evil stuff. Besides, you’ve heard old heads talk about this band with serious reverence, in the same tone that the teenagers your older sibling hangs out with use to talk about horror movies that you’re too scared to see. Those older teens scare you a bit too. But now’s your time to shine, to prove that you can hang with the big dogs. So pull the record out of the sleeve, put needle to vinyl, and gear up for the heaviest shit on earth. Then, three minutes later… “What the fuck is this?”

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As undeniably influential as Kiss are, to a younger generation of metal fans, listening to them for the first time can be something of a let-down. Beyond the facepaint and cult-like branding, Kiss are (when you get right down to it) a pretty approachable rock ‘n’ roll act. That’s not a bad thing, rock ‘n’ roll is awesome, and Kiss have some undeniable hooks. But it’s easy for their image -- combined with their widespread appeal to heavy metal fans -- to give young music fans the wrong idea.

Luckily, France’s Monarch are here to deliver the Kiss that you imagined in your innocent mind so many years ago. Their cover of “Black Diamond” from Kiss’s self-titled debut, appropriately retitled “Diamant Noir,” would likely slip by unnoticed by anyone unfamiliar with the original. Monarch don’t budge an inch toward the song's gravity, instead they force the material to come to them. “Diamant Noir” like the rest of Never Forever is a cavernous and minimalist doom trudge. The only connective tissue comes from singer Emile Bresson, who maintains the original song’s vocal melody but stretches it out into a ghostly recitation. Even more chilling, and somewhat mystifying, is the band’s addition of lyrics from Outkast’s “Aquemini.” Taken in concert, the two groups of lyrics are a memento mori. “Even the sun goes down, heroes eventually die… Darkness will fall on the city."

This ain’t your father’s Kiss record.

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Stream “Diamant Noir” below, and check out a statement from the band about the cover.

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I think that we first started toying with the idea of doing a KISS cover during a soundcheck, for a show in Dublin a few years back. Wizards of Firetop Mountain were on the bill. They are so good! That was a wild night. When working on the intro, we were brainstorming ideas, and with Emilie we were thinking that we needed to find something cool, something Outkast would do. Then we were like 'fuck it, let's just use the lyrics from Aquemini on the intro'. I'm glad we did. Once we had the Outkast thing sorted for the KISS intro, we deemed it necessary to use wolf howls to balance out the second solo. And that was it.

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Never Forever is out on September 22nd via Profound Lore. Follow Monarch on Facebook here.

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