I was reading some beer tasting notes the other day (similar to a wine tasting list only more socially acceptable) and came to the conclusion that what I was reading was mini-reviews. I wondered if I could get away with writing one for this miniature three-tracker, but came to the conclusion that you, the reader, would need to do a lot of deciphering to understand it, so you may thank your lucky stars when I bailed on the idea. But, I digress.
Wainuiomata (New Zealand) natives, London (UK) residents’ Monsterworks have spawned 9 albums in 14 years (discounting 1999’s 4-tracker), which is a hellishly prolific output by any stretch of the imagination. Yet I’m racking my brains to recall how I know this band’s name. It could be I’m getting confused with the Dreamworks’ film Monsters, but then Sully had way more (blue) hair than this lot. Man: Instincts, it seems, is just one in a series of “digital releases” whose origins lie in this year’s Monsterworks full-length offering, Album Of Man.
They have labelled themselves as purveyors of “progressive thrash supermetal” but diving in, it becomes apparent that they haven’t stopped there at the genre-crossing. There are elements of black, doom and death metal in here too and their music comes covered in dollops of bluesy, earthy groove. “The Creation Dream” starts out with a sweet acoustic lick and comes accompanied by a smile and a good deal of head-bobbing. That is until the wince-inducing twin vocal attack of foreground-bothering low-end growling and distant, detached, falsetto howling. The disembodied howl thankfully dips into a more instinctive mid-range for the choral lick. It’s a cosmic piece that digs its nails beneath the skin. The scrawling collision of vocal paucity over thick bass and heavily-distorted guitars, the kind that lurk in the brief shocker “All Suns Die”, rather show up the weak spots in the mix, and neither this track nor the scatty, lurching structure of “Free Will” fail to hit the mark in the same way which is a shame.
Generally, everything feels a little rushed here in the way that these feel like eight-minute tracks crammed into half the running time. On this evidence the album may provide a better insight into the vision that Monsterworks have for their concept.
Now, just for those who do share my odd sense of humour, my Monsterworks tasting notes would read as follows: Nicely-aged with a smooth, earthy body and cloyingly thick, spicy, dark fruit bite. Innate effervescent quality on the tongue builds to reveal surprisingly thick, lingering, sharp notes at the finish.
(5/10 John Skibeat)