These silent Swiss rockers have become a psychedelic stoner staple on the European scene in less than a decade by releasing a string of lovely crafted records and touring with the best acts in the genre. Sharing a similar vision to fellow labelmates, My Sleeping Karma and rising as fast as them, Monkey3 have found a perfect balance between the heavy, guitar-centered sound and moody, ambient soundscapes. This way, it all comes down to dynamics and nuances that constantly warp the main ideas. Moreover, keeping things as simple and direct as possible most of the times, means there's little overcrowding, therefore, the music is easy to digest.
The 5th Sun follows the footsteps of its predecessor, Beyond The Black Sky, but with an upgrade in delivery and a heavier musical shade, perfectly representing the dark undertone the title portrays. With a more progressive approach, these songs create entities of their own through the band's excellent songwriting abilities and flawless execution. The first two ones in particular, 'Icarus' and 'Suns', which make up almost half of the record's length, are essential Monkey3. Slowly taking off with an erratic soundscape, the former is everything one needs to hear from the band: staggering riffs laid over epic synthesizers that keep growing until they reach massive heights and power. Even at over 14 minutes long, 'Icarus' flows extremely well, becoming one of the most ambitious track in their catalog so far. 'Suns', on the other hand, starts as pseudo-post-rock, with melodic riffs and faint, atmospheric keyboards, before morphing into noisy, organ-led, stoner metal. As dynamic as anything put out on previous records, these two cuts beautifully showcase how much you can do with less (in this case, with clear, often basic structures).
Diving further, the brooding 'Birth Of Venus' or the somber 'Pintao' offer some of the hardest hitting moments within conventional lengths. Psychotic synths constantly enrich the canvas, both featuring some leads Rammstein would be pleased of. Monkey3 can be as expansive and effective as needed whether they take 4 or 14 minutes to express their ideas. These cuts also show how versatile these guys can be while still lounging in their own comfort zone.
Even if The 5th Sun is a strong release, it works best when revisited every once in a while. It's not an album to obsess over, simply because it loses its impact on the listener when put on repeat. This is not a negative aspect, it's the case of many groups in the genre (Karma To Burn, My Sleeping Karma, etc.). Definitely an amazing live act, Monkey3 are one of the fewer bands who have managed to transpose their energy and power on tape. The riffs are easy to digest for newcomers yet highly entertaining for the fans and as a result, this record might be their most accomplished material to date.
Thanks. Unfortunately, I have 97 reviews written in 6 years lol, I'm too lazy. Also, I need to change things up a bit, I feel stuck in a rut.
I wasn't really a psychedelic/stoner fan until a couple of years ago. Once you discover some bands that get under your skin, you'll inevitably dig for others (this happened to me). Monkey3 and My Sleeping Karma are great bands to dig into, but in the end they're quite monotone (especially My Sleeping Karma). They have some really cool songs, however, their sound hasn't changed almost at all in a decade. Still, they are a great gateway into the genre.
well you can always try something a little different for your 100th review ;) that's what i'm gonna do. Also don't be hard on yourself, I'm guessing all writers (even the best ones) feel that way sometimes
Thanks Captain. They are really good, but yeah, other bands are more experimental and that helps on the overall sound.
@Mad - They have a massive catalog. I'll get the others chronologically. Regarding Monkey3, I understand you, I'm more into post-rock and that's why I found this more intriguing. Nevertheless, I hope I get to catch them live, because I heard they sound as good as on tape.