Monsterworks
The God Album

When I got a CD in the mail, by a band called Monsterworks–whom I had never heard–I really had no idea what to expect. I was maybe expecting a new band doing some sort of new metal. Boy was I wrong. It turned out that Monsterworks is a UK/New Zealand collaboration that plays a form of experimental thrash/death/heavy metal and has released seven albums since 2000. Oh, and of particular note for me is that they feature unique vocalist Jonathan Higgs of awesome progressive doom act The Living Fields.

Those familiar with The Living Fields and their last self-released effort will be familiar with Higgs and his voice; it’s a sort of Ihsahn meets Cam Pipes (3 inches of Blood) wail that will divide most listeners. However, musically Monsterworks is a different beast than The Living Fields, though both are challenging, progressive and brilliant.

A concept album about the hypocrisy and dangers of organized religion, The God Album is a varied kaleidoscope of musical influences. Above and beyond Higg’s vocals, which also introduce some deep death metal roars, the music is an unpredictable blend of pretty much every genre of metal. The backbone is thrash and heavy metal but with the wide array of vocals and injections of black, death metal, grindcore and power metal — the album simply won’t fit into any pigeonhole.

The album starts with a bang with standout “Everything You Believe is a Lie” and proclaiming so with a forceful, catchy and epic number that’s sure to be one of the bands signature songs. It’s followed by the more direct, chunky thrash of “Monomythic” where Monsterworks show that if the need be, they can pen simple, burly metal without all the bells and whistles. But the track also shows Higgs value as a guitarist with some nice solo work, that also arise throughout the rest of the album’s 30-minute runtime.

After the hymnal “Reprieve”, things get back to the metal with the urgent “The Enemy of My Enemy” which has some melo-death elements and when combined with Higg’s piercing wails and solemn croons, it makes for a real fist pumper. The mellow and largely acoustic number “Origin’ has an air of Opeth about it with a moody, authoritative tone before “False Miracle” renders a short, shocking, grindcore blast and groove.

The album’s other standout cut is the simply, effectively titled and dramatically paced “God” with a huge cautionary mantra in the chorus. The more uplifting penultimate track “Let it Go” offers a plea for free thought and an end to intolerance. The albums third standout, “(Hymn of) Fire” appropriately ends the album with a rangy introspective number, but about six or so minutes  in, it takes a turn for the dramatic with a burly acoustic, almost flamenco laden burst that’s very impressive — again showing the band’s range of influences.

Like the recent Ana Kefr, Monsterworks’ huge range of sounds will confound many, but for me it’s a potential top 10 or 20 for 2011. In part to the three standouts mentioned, but the album as a whole, when taking into account the concept, the ambitiousness, vocals, and skill of all the members just comes together to create something rather unique within the realms of metal — whatever genre you try to lump it into.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
May 17th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Didn’t like the Ana Kefr but I’ll give this a chance. Will listen to it in the afternoon.


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