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THESE MONSTERS – “Call Me Dragon” (CD/LP/Download, Brew Records/Function Records)

Posted: January 29th, 2010, by Dave Stockwell

From the ever-fertile Leeds scene of slightly-fucked rock musics emerge These Monsters, a raging behemoth of a traditional power trio with added saxophonist (who also occasionally plays synths). And some very big amps.

The sum of their three years of existence so far, this 7 track album space the best part of 40 minutes of heavyheavy sax-addled space rock with the occasional shouted vocal sitting in the background. Quite simply, it’s exhausting.

Live, These Monsters are an intriguing proposition. Four very committed young men throwing themselves into some progtastic heavy rock abandon, they’re as likeable as they are freaked-out. The huge amps help pummel the killer riffs into your skull and everyone ends up smiling stupidly. You can’t but help have a good time.

So it’s my regret to report that I really had a hard time listening to this record. Yes, the band’s performances are great and they run breathlessly through more ideas than most other rock bands have in their entire careers. Unfortunately, the sound of the thing is simultaneously muted and wearing. It sounds like the band have turned their amps down and turned the compressor up in a bid to give their riffs and chops maximum clarity. It certainly shows their musicianship up nicely, but none of the overblown instruments that knock crowds for six in a live environment sound pleasing to the ear and the whole thing feels like the dynamics have been squashed out of it.

Yes, so many records of so-called “heavy” bands have suffered this treatment in the never-ending loudness war, but I can’t for the life of me see why a band of this ilk would feel the need to squish the life out of their enviable sound in a bid for their records to sound good on a shitty radio or MP3 player. Yes, this is a very personal complaint, but when such tactics render me unable to physically sit through an entire record of not disagreeable music, I’ve got to say so. And this is coming from a Kevin Drumm fan, so cut me some slack. Or just call me a an old fogey if you want, but all I can hope is that the LP sounds a hell of a lot easier on the ear than the CD I was sent.

What I did manage to tolerate (between breaks) sounded like a promising album, if one that’s monotonous sounds end up aggravating rather than stimulating. There’s a distinct lack of light and shade to These Monsters’ songs anyway, which is forgivable for rowdy and raucous live band, but is pretty hard to take in the comfort of your own home. A little more variation, more exploration of different sounds and tones, would have worked wonders for all the arse-kicking riffery that this record celebrates. And there was me thinking that the caterwauling sax would be the hardest thing to adjust to.

At the end of the day, These Monsters are an undeniably talented and intriguing band. I’d suggest you check ’em out in the live environment if possible, or mebbe just give the Youtube video below a listen and see what you think. But think hard whether you’d like to spend 40 minutes of your life pummeling your ears into a dull oblivion.

These Monsters on YouTube

These Monsters Myspace

Function Records
Brew Records