Review Summary: “I want people to walk away from it happy and feeling completed in some way.”
MonstrO is a difficult album to pin down. In one sense it seems to be a sludge rock/metal album, but in many ways it isn’t. The album makes much more sense when we realize that, “They wanted to end up with a sound that reminded them of their heroes without blatant imitation.” They even specified their heroes as Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Soundgarden, Jane's Addiction, and Metallica. Normally influences usually influence an album’s sound about as much as your friend influences you to lend him money, but I’m telling you that MonstrO
is quite different. With the band’s musical ideals completely rooted in the past, we get an album that feels like a trip through memory lane. It’s a curious experience to be sure, but is it worth listening to? I would say yes.
For the first two tracks we’re punched in the face with buzz saw riffs, and it immediately seems that we know how the rest of the album will sound. We expect more of the same, of course, and we are therefore not surprised when punchy sludge songs like ‘Stallone’ and ‘Solar’ kick in. However, we are definitely surprised when the album turns in a completely opposite direction. This isn’t really a sludge rock album, it just seems like one for a while. The first hint of change came with the song ‘Concertina’, which is pretty much a direct rip-off of every classic rock song I’ve ever heard. Little did I know, however, just how different the album would get.
‘Concertina’ was only a stepping stone to the album’s variation, it seems. Soon, I was hit with ‘Olympia’, a… wait… a shoegaze song? Against all odds though, the album rises despite not rocking as hard as we might have liked. The rest of the album seems content with crooning away amongst a Peter Gabriel influenced classic rock atmosphere, and surprisingly, it’s pretty good. The band could have easily stuck with only sludge rock throughout the entire album, but instead we get pleasant variation. We’re also graced with real emotions that their brand of sludge rock couldn’t have exuded as well. It’s a fairly diverse album, and it keeps you interested in its progression. Overall, despite seeming a bit unorthodox, MonstrO
is a compelling listen. It rocks as hard as it simmers, and this should help it appeal to a broader audience. It also makes for a memorable, interesting album, and that’s worth listening to.