Entertaining debut from a band with potential to shake up the post-rock establishment.
Mike Diver 2010-03-30
Leeds-based four-piece These Monsters’ twist on post-rock is a simple but effective one. Where most bands plying pieces that build and break, repeating said pattern for a set length, employ a standard guitar-bass-drums formation, this band adds saxophone to the mix to emerge from the domestic underground with a sound that’s more striking than many of their peers.
Experimentation was at the core of post-rock when the term was first coined by eminent critic Simon Reynolds in 1994, but since the likes of Mogwai and Godspeed have attracted audiences significantly wider than they ever dreamed at the time of their inceptions, tried-and-tested techniques have transformed the genre from titillating to tiresome. There are, of course, exceptions – but these ears have been subjected to a spread of substandard sound-alike acts ever since Young Team provided the scene with a significant shot in the arm.
So what do These Monsters bring to the party? Well, those sax passages lend their music an increased depth – every time Jonny Farrell parps his instrument into life, the added detail makes the experience all the more vivid. The jazziest signatures work, complementing rather than acting in conflict with the guitar lines around them. Vocalist – not that you’ll discern much from his shrieks and wails – Sam Pryor is a devilish presence throughout, too; he sounds better suited to one of Leeds’ numerous hardcore acts than a band seeking to enthral with arrangements of nuanced ambition rather than bare-knuckled adrenaline. Recorded beside Chris Fielding, whose past credits include Napalm Death and Electric Wizard, there’s an accomplished brutishness to the overall atmosphere – but Call Me Dragon never gets distracted by a desire to punish the senses, upping aggression levels only when contrast demands it.
Though this is their debut long-player, These Monsters have released a lot of music already, so one can see this as the ending of chapter one of their existence – not a complete culmination of everything achieved to date as such, but certainly a marker for what has been and what is yet to be. With a dynamic established and assured, future work is certain to be interesting. This set frequently entertains, but loses its way slightly during longer pieces. The slightest editing and, next time out, we’ll have a record to really shake up the post-rock establishment.