originally posted on Saturday, 29 June 2013
I’ve mentioned this in past articles, and I’ll mention it again; there is a huge surge lately of bands trying to revive the classic rock sound in to modern music. Most bands try it but sound too generic, all of which remain in a mostly unknown bar band status. One band that I find generic that was lucky enough to breakout is The Sheepdogs, but that is the only exception I can think of.
Approximately a year ago, you couldn’t turn on Canadian rock radio without hearing Seven Seas Blues. For the first time in I think ever, I was amazed. This band that the DJ (can’t remember which one) on Y108 introduced as Monster Truck really knew how to capture attention through song. It had a slow groove, a killer guitar riff and exceptional vocals that weren’t the most talented of pipes but still sounded great. That description, however, is what I’d use to politely describe almost any of the other bands who try to bring back the classic rock sound, but this band was different. They didn’t sound like they were trying to be a classic rock band, they just sounded heavily influenced by the Black Sabbath’s and the Deep Purple’s of the 70’s. They knew how to use rhythm to their advantage to have a modern appeal with their easy to sing along with guitar riff (which they do eventually start singing along with in the song). It wasn’t long before Seven Seas Blues was followed up on the radio by another Monster Truck track,Righteous Smoke. This time the song was basically a faster version Seven Seas Blues.
This five track EP, simply titled The Brown EP, received so much attention that it propelled the band to win the Juno award for Breakthrough Group of the Year, beating out such well known acts as Walk Off the Earth. While they won this award, they were recording what would eventually be their debut album. In late May, they finally released Furiosity. A little before the albums released, the band shipped their single from the album, Sweet Mountain River, to Canadian radio stations. You couldn’t, and still can’t, turn on a rock radio station without hearing the song. However when the song was released, I started to think it was a little too similar to the previously mentioned songs and was a little reluctant to listen to the band any further than what I had already heard, but I bought Furiosity anyway. And boy am I glad I did.
Almost instantly from the albums opening track Old Train I was sold that this was a band of serious musicians and not “rockstar” wannabe’s. Old Train’s intensity right from the start differentiated the song instantly from the previous mentioned songs thanks to its integrity and power. It may still have some of the features from previously heard Monster Truck songs, such as the vocal chants that sing along with the guitar riff, but the songs noticeable speed and grit is sure to change anyone’s opinion of the band.
The band doesn’t stop there; with The Lion we hear the same intensity, but this time the band shows their melodic capabilities, for really the first time ever. Power To The People brings back the slower grooves that we’ve heard by the band, but this time they concentrate more on the vocal melodies than centring the song on a primary guitar riff, which is a welcome change from a track like Righteous Smoke. In fact, these first three songs pumped me up so much that by the time the album got to Sweet Mountain River, which is the album’s fourth track, I didn’t realize that it was the same song that I had been hearing on the radio. Suddenly the song was put in to perspective after hearing it played in its proper order on the album. I originally thought of the song to be nothing more than a simple Whole Lotta Rosie-like song with a call and response between its guitar riff and Jon Harvey’s vocals. Now, after finally understanding the bands musical perspective, I hear the same rhythm and inspiration that I’ve been hearing throughout the album thus far when I listen to Sweet Mountain River.
Anyway, moving on, the album continues to punch the eardrums hard with the super fast and super intense snare drum driven track Psychics, which leads in to the slow groove of Oh Lord. This slow groove makes up for an obvious signature sound for the band. Even the fastest of songs on the album have this unique groove thanks to the chemistry drummer Steve Kiely has with the rest of the band.Undercover Love is the other unmentioned example of that mentioned groove that is featured on this album.
The albums longest track, the 7+ minute For The Sun shows the blues rock side of the bands influences. While each song on the album had some sort of a blues rock display to it, this song shows that the band knows how to make a full blues rock song. Starting off with the kind of guitar solo that not many bands are capable of succeeding at these days, the song continues its slow textbook blues pace, every now and then breaking out in to a bit of that heavier groove that I keep mentioning in the chorus of the song. One powerful aspect of this song is the soulful organ heard in the background.
To add to the many different classic hard rock influences that this album displays, the song Boogie is exactly that. The song is a short one, I don’t know if the band intended for this to be some kind of a filler track, but it is far from that. It actually sets the pace well for the second last track on the album Call It A Spade, which has a similar boogie to that of ZZ Top’s La Grange. To hear it you’d know what I mean, but I am NOT saying that this song is an attempt at making another La Grange.
The shortest song on the album, clocking at just over two minutes, is the heaviest track, The Giant. Jon Harvey shapes his voice to what I think sounds like Shinedown’s Brent Smith. While Jon’s voice has stood the course of the album and has absolutely never gone wrong, he takes it a step further on this track, making what I believe to be his best vocal performance on the album.
The album ends on a softer not, with another blues rock track called My Love Is True. This time, unlikeFor The Sun, the band turns their instruments up just slightly enough to make the song consistently harder than For The Sun. I’m not sure how I feel about the album ending with a song such as this; I’ve mentioned again and again from past albums how I feel about albums ending with slower, softer songs. The album should end with a punch and a kick and should leave listeners wanting more, where this song doesn’t quite do that.
Luckily, the sheer energy and power of the entire album as a whole leaves me and plenty of other rock fans excited to see what the future holds for Monster Truck. This album holds its influences on its sleeve, but at the same time they don’t identify themselves as being anyone but themselves. They don’t market themselves as a classic rock band; others may call them that, but they just call themselvesMonster Truck. It is music that comes at you like a Monster Truck crushing cars, but at the same time it is music with actual feeling and thought which make up an album that takes its listener for a ride, never really knowing what is going to come next.
I haven’t found it hard to find people who have heard of Monster Truck. Generally when having music conversations with people lately, this band comes up quite often, and every single person says the same thing about the album, that everyone they know has nothing but good things to say about the album. Anyone I know of who has heard the album loves it and agrees that it is one of the better albums to be released in years, this includes well trusted and respected music establishments such as HMV Canada. It is that involuntary public reaction that helped incorporate my rating for the album.
“The Lion” – I’ve already mentioned the intensity of this song. This track, which I would say is probably the second heaviest track on the album, but second by a landslide to The Giant. It is the first true moment in the album that we hear the harmonizing and musical capabilities of the band beyond being able to simply make a catchy tune. It features the same (and the overused word of this article) groove that the band will quickly be known for, and more than maintains the level of intensity that the rest of the songs on the album bring to the table. The main reason this is chosen as the highlight is thanks to its amazing chorus, and the excellent driving force that makes this the perfect riding tune.
10 (Out of 10)
- The Lion
- Power of the People
- Sweet Mountain River
- Oh Lord
- For The Sun
- Undercover Love
- The Giant
- Call it A Spade
- My Love Is True