There’s a word for what MonstrO have given us here. Lord Of The Rings’ Gollum would know the word. It’s a “tricksy” little album that promises one thing and ends up delivering so much more. Oh, how it twists and turns and dumbfounds us. Suarez, thankfully has a good explanation for its choppy nature. “I would like MonstrO to inspire like the bands who changed my life and inspired me to play music when I was 12 years old. Each song stands on its own in regards to topic but the themes of the songs individually jump from one end of the spectrum to the other.” It’s a statement that only hints at the vast diversity of styles that lurk within. Never before have I heard a band go from sounding like Wolfmother one minute to echoing Tool the next; from Jane’s Addiction to Shrinebuilder in one swift, seemingly effortless leap.
As bands like Jet and Black Stone Cherry have successfully done before them, MonstrO feed off, and bring up to date, those clambering classic rock tones that their 60s/70s forbears seemed to chuck around at will – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Bad Company. You’ll hear echoes of the past in both the Wolfmother-esque “Concertina” and “Stallone” but through it all they retain this inimitable poppy quality to their music. There’s also flavours of Alice In Chains (not surprising seeing as their vocalist William DuVall’s got involved on the production side of things as well as contributing to vocal back-up on “Concertina”), QOTSA and Pearl Jam coming across in either the vocal inflections or the probing string-work. They also have an ability to flick into a massive wall of driving thunder, as excellently demonstrated in both “Anchors Up!” and “Solar”, that current bands like The Sword, Priestess and Saviours are so brilliant at. This is exactly the point that you’d expect them to stop inventing and settle, but they have designs on championing many more passions of theirs. Thus, we get the downtuned drop into “Olympia” and “Helios” which sees them suddenly switch off the groove as they begin to delve into more ambient realms. Then, tracks like “Apollo” and “Elizabeth” generate yet another level of more proggy, doom-afflicted caves for you to invade, inhabit and make your own.
As Suarez suggests it truly does kick up these dusty echoes of bands we have loved through our youth. Perhaps it’s my age, but I found the stoned affectations and persuasive lyrics of songs like the bucking “Helios” and the light-headed psychedelics of “April” rapping gently on the windows of my soul. Each track grows on you with every listen, but you may have to adjust your perception of what this band actually is, track-by-track. It’s likely that you’ll be more quickly on board with either the speedier fast half of the album or the more exploratory second half as there is a marked division that they should probably concentrate on smoothing over for future releases. With regards to trying to put this album into a pigeon-hole, it’s certainly a “tricksy” prospect and one I don’t suggest you focus on. Instead, let the music flow over you and MonstrO may just become something you eventually refer to, as Gollum would, as “my precious”.
Also online @ The NewReview (with samples) = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/monstro-monstro