Hailing from France, Monnaie De Singe have certainly chosen a fascinating subject matter for their latest album, The Story Of Rose Øla Seks. Released at the tail end of 2021, it tells the story of a Norwegian lady by the name of Rose Øla Seks. After tragically losing her son, Elias, at a very young age to violent meningitis in the first half of the 1990's, her mental health issues spiral out of control. The story escalates in the most horrendous and violent way, with murder and demonic forces at play. A demonic entity promises Rose it will bring her son back from the grave if she takes the lives of three people in return. Eventually following through with this evil deed, Rose is arrested and placed in a psychiatric hospital. She is not classed as being criminally responsible for what she has done due to her mental state. Many years later in 2011, she believes she has seen her son in a news report on the television. The man she believes to be her son is responsible for a massacre on the island of Utøya, one of the worst attacks on Norwegian soil since World War 2. Was it her son that carried out this terrible atrocity? Did Rose really make a deal with a demon and did it really bring her son back to life? This album is the soundtrack to that harrowing tale and it all makes for an intriguing ride. They're a band that originally established themselves in the mid 1990's with the current line-up for this release consisting of Anne-Gaële Rumin-Montil (Vocals), Eric Issertes (Bass), Philippe Chavaroche (Keyboards/Synths), Éric Farges (Drums), Christopher Laporte (Guitars) and Jean-Philippe Moncanis (Guitars).
Rose Øla Seks opens proceedings with icy, sinister synths that sound like an alien signal beaming down from a distant planet. The song starts the album off in a moody, mid-paced fashion. There's some deceptively doomy riffing present here and a couple of tasteful guitar solos too. Anne singing "Hear my prayer" at the end of the song sends shivers down one's spine. It's the longest song on the album and an excellent way to bring the listener into the story. There's an urgency about the bass and drums on Darknet that picks the album's tempo up from the opening track - the crispness of the drumming in particular really stands out to me. It's the shortest song on the album, but the rough and ready guitar playing adds a dry, menacing bite that I feel works really well. There are also some atmospheric keyboards that simmer away nicely, adding a haunting energy to the song. Crunchy electric guitars lead on Evil. Frosty keyboards whirl their way around just below the surface, forming icicles on the song's lurking underbelly. Lyrics such as "There's no turning back, no way, no tracks" really add a powerful punch to proceedings and places the listener firmly in the midst of Rose's desperate, plagued mindset. The last minute or so of the song has a really cool instrumental section with keyboards and guitars taking centre stage, bringing the song to a dramatic end. The fantastic Three Days In Hell is just drenched with emotion. The opening drums sound huge and the vocal delivery on this song is simply heart breaking. There is some lovely, emotive guitar playing on this track too, but the entire band just sound superb throughout. There's a little section of the song where guitar and vocal trade-off and it just sounds wonderful (especially when listening through my headphones). It surely has to be my favourite song on the album at the time of writing. Be sure to take a look at the video for this song too - it's great! The mournful opening of The Story Ends There is quickly picked up by the enthusiastic rhythm section. Stark keyboards pierce through as chunky bass lines provide a strong backbone to the track, really helping to drive the song forward. The way in which the lyrics are delivered on this track transport me right into the centre of the story. Elias is a standout song on the album for me. With its pulsating electronics and emotional vocal stylings at the beginning, the song continues to build and build over its five plus minutes. Conflicting emotions take hold whilst listening to this track. It evokes a feeling of sorrow for Rose and the loss she has suffered, yet we're reminded of the damage and pain she has also caused others. The goth-tinged, industrial stylings of From Utøya ends the album on an interesting note. Menacing electronic noodlings open the song and are joined by some crunchy guitars and keyboards that sound like they're straight out of the 1980's. There are even sections of the song that make you want to dance to it. Though the verses add a slightly slower paced, gloomier vibe, which provides a nice dynamic shift and keeps the song in touch with the overall feel of the album.
Given the subject matter, both the music and artwork for this album are suitably moody and atmospheric, encasing the listener in a sonic snow storm. I must say, it's an album that is continuing to grow on me, getting better and better with each listen. It's a dark ride that brings flashes of the band The Gathering and their more recent ventures to mind, especially when it comes to some of the guitar work that's present on this. Taking on such a difficult subject matter would be a daunting task for most bands, but I feel they have captured the weight and emotion of this particular story well. I do hope they choose another interesting story/topic to explore on their next album and continue to push their sound forward, expanding into different territories. It's not an album you'd put on to cheer yourself up, but it is certainly worthy of your time, especially when you're after something a little darker. Please have a look at the links below to find out where to purchase the album and to watch the music video for Three Days In Hell.
***+ Rickalonius Monk
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