Album Reviews

Silent Monolith: ‘Empty Kingdom’ Album Review

The last time Silent Monolith, a fiery Stoner Rock group out of Nashville TN, released a full album was back in 2015 with Another Way to Fly. While it was well-received by critics and fans alike, the band’s long-term success seemed to be capped by a few different factors: health issues, label issues, and, eventually, COVID. 

Despite the challenges, the band managed to pump out a tasty EP (“Lord of Saturn”) in 2020 and a monolithic Led Zeppelin cover (“No Quarter”) in 2022. 

But now, finally, the band is back in form. Enter Empty Kingdom

An incendiary political commentary perfect for fans of Metal and Stoner Rock titans like Metallica, Corrosion of Conformity, Kyuss, Sasquatch, Soundgarden, and even Spiritual Beggars, Empty Kingdom is packed with powerful, catchy riffs, an electrifying rhythm section, and smart, pained vocals. 

This is one album you don’t want to miss. 

About Silent Monolith

Originally formed from a Craigslist ad, the Silent Monolith lineup has shifted quite frequently over the years. 

And the personnel list becomes even more complicated when you look at the credits for Empty Kingdom, as some of these tracks were written around the same time as Another Way to Fly

Here’s the full credit list for Empty Kingdom:

  • Kenneth Johnson – Guitar/Vocals/Keys on All Tracks
  • Dan Douchette – Drums on All Tracks
  • Nate Davenport – Bass on Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8
  • Shania Blake – Guitar on Tracks 2, 4, 6, 7, 8
  • Logan Greeson – Bass on Tracks 3, 6
  • Garrett Ward – Guitar Solos on Tracks 3, 5
  • Matt Curtis – Guitar Solo on Track 3

Empty Kingdom was recorded at County Q Studios in Nashville. It was engineered and mixed by Weston Wellman and mastered by Derek Mattin. The album artwork was created by Carlos Fides.

‘Empty Kingdom’ Album Review

Release Date: July 18, 2022
Tracks: 8
Length: 40:37

Track 1: Terrible Day of the Lord

“Terrible Day of the Lord” is built like a true intro track, kicking off the album with waves of feedback before gradually bringing the band into the fray. And as vocalist Kenneth Johnson warns of the Second Coming, the song’s emotional qualities build a certain level of momentum to carry us into the rest of the album.

Track 2: Burn

A Corrosion of Conformity-style riff launches “Burn” into a frenzy, while the distorted vocals give the track an old-school quality. But one of the song’s very best features is its catchy chorus, which was inspired by the image of Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned (a commentary, of course, on the apathetic politicians of today).

Track 3: Empty Kingdom

Another exciting single, “Empty Kingdom” is sure to delight fans of Sasquatch with its quick, chunky riffs. Like “Burn,” “Empty Kingdom” is another political track, telling the story of a ruler who goes to the extremes to maintain control, killing everyone in his way until he rules an empty kingdom.

Track 4: The Sin-Eater

After the electrifying momentum of “Burn” and “Empty Kingdom,” “The Sin-Eater” starts off at a much slower pace, relying on the keyboard to hit some long, sustained, and emotional chords. “The Sin-Eater” follows a compelling quiet-loud-quiet template over its 7-plus-minutes duration, an approach that works especially well after the frenzy of the last two songs. And when “The Sin-Eater” does finally break into the full band, it’s an experience worth the wait.

Track 5: A Million Miles Away

Pumping with all the energy of a Monster Magnet or Spiritual Beggars track, “A Million Miles Away” could have easily been an additional single ahead of the album’s full release. Marked by Kenneth Johnson’s guitar heroics and momentous vocals, “A Million Miles Away” is one of Empty Kingdom’s strongest tracks.

Track 6: All The Same

A slower track that may occasionally call to mind Ad Astra-era Spiritual Beggars, “All the Same” adds a dash of Psychedelic Rock for some cosmic fun through the keyboard and shimmering guitars. 

Track 7: Qui Decipitur

“Qui Decipitur” (which translates to “Deceiver”) is another cool guitar track alternating between big, palm-muted riffs and a lightning-fast lead guitar. And that’s a good move on Silent Monolith’s part because “Qui Decipitur” is a 6-minute instrumental in the same high-energy vein as Karma to Burn. Interestingly, the song concludes with an emotional third act.

Track 8: Lost Hope

Another exciting guitar track, “Lost Hope” successfully concludes Empty Kingdom on a high note—and leaves you hungry for more.

Final Thoughts on ‘Empty Kingdom’

Final Score: 9.5/10

Standout Tracks: “Burn,” “Empty Kingdom,” “A Million Miles Away” and “Qui Decipitur”

Pros: The cards were stacked against Silent Monolith on Empty Kingdom. For one, it’s been seven years since their last release, and that sets high expectations for a follow-up record. But Empty Kingdom is also their sophomore release, putting them at risk for the dreaded sophomore slump. 

Well, the band crushed it. 

Empty Kingdom is a high-energy Stoner Rock album that will please fans of Stoner Rock/Metal standouts like Corrosion of Conformity, Kyuss, Sasquatch, and Spiritual Beggars—and even fans of mainstream acts like Metallica and Soundgarden. 

But Empty Kingdom isn’t just a massive riff fest. Johnson’s lyrics are smart, addressing everything from politics (see “Burn”) to immigration (see “A Million Miles Away”). 

Ultimately, Empty Kingdom is an album worthy of multiple listens. 

Cons: This is a strong album overall, but some of the vocals are inconsistent. In “Burn” and “Terrible Day of the Lord” for example, the vocals are set farther back in the mix and thick with distortion—making them more difficult to make out. But on tracks like “All The Same,” the vocals are relatively clean and easy to understand, helping us parse Johnson’s lyrics. Still, this is a small complaint; Empty Kingdom is well constructed, and this is a solid album overall.

Learn More About Silent Monolith

To learn more about Silent Monolith, visit their website, drop by their Bandcamp page, or follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter). 

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