Despite the preconceptions that come with supergroups, Twilight's Monument to Time End (Southern Lord, 2010) isn't merely a catwalk for each member to flaunt his best features. This sophomore release suggests this group might have more to offer than one-hit wonders.

Written almost entirely by Blake Judd (Nachtmystium), Wrest (Leviathan), and N. Imperial (Krieg), sounds from Twilight's black metal past are prevalent from the get-go. Yet the addition of Stavros Giannopoulos (The Atlas Moth), Aaron Turner (Isis), and Sanford Parker (Minsk) eases this album into warmer waters. Guitars layer gently against darker rhythms. Percussion slices through the layers in the same steady and somewhat catchy way Wrest fashioned Leviathan. When the synth and noise effects aren't seeking coverage beneath foggy terrain, they add cute nuances during quiet parts. But the real strength comes from the cavernous depth of the bass and vocals.

"Convulsions in Wells of Fever"

These qualities forge Twilight as a grandfather type that speaks wise words we might have heard before. "Convulsions in Wells of Fever" and "Decaying Observer" say listen to me, damn it, as echoing vocals and endless riffs swarm and crash. When they take their time, Twilight make their nuances count, as in "8,000 Years" and "The Catastrophe Exhibition". Imperial's vocals fizz and echo as guitars ripple from steady riffs to playful fills.

Although Monument to Time End lacks the frostbitten earnestness of black metal’s most primitive, it shows how the genre is more open to artistic vision and broad interpretation. As expected of production mastermind Parker, the tones are balanced and polished, making this record appear flawless. At times, it’s easy to forgive the music’s long-windedness. The real test for Twilight is how they measure up live, which they still have yet to prove. Until then, Monument to Time End will please those willing to escape into less cryptic but more atmospheric realms.

"8,000 Years"

— Jess Blumensheid

Amazon (CD)
The End (CD)
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Amie St. (MP3, currently less than $2)