This is heavy fucking shit. As heavy an album as I've heard come out of metal or hard core in a long time. And a hell of a lot tighter than all but the slickest of studio engineered albums. And this comes from the mind and talents of one man.
Uneasy about a heavy album backed up primarily by programmed drums, I was apprehensive for the album at the first track, Invaded. This and Automated Life are the only tracks where Koh, the sole talent behind this album, tries to mimic real drums with electronic ones. They are still kick-ass tunes, but the exactness of the rhythm and sound of the drums detract. On every other song on the album Koh not only lets the drum machine be a drum machine, but uses its unique characteristics to his advantage in pushing hard sounds.
The Man Behind Bars strays close to being a nice core tune. The vocals throughout the album have a nice distorted, shouted edge with strong moments of lyrical singing. And with this offering, go from a hardcore punch to almost Alice in Chains Harmony. Musically, this is where Koh brings keyboards in, successfully mixing in new influences to heavy styles. In the Process brings a nice hard industrial backbeat that enhances the pace and drive of this song.
M, the title track, is easily the best song on the album. It vacillates between styles as divergent as honky-tonk blues piano to fat guitar riffs that would make Ozzy's balls drop. It is where all the elements gel as with no other song on the album. In Undercurrent we get to see Koh stretching his synthesis influences into his metal style. Well-rounded, and as competent an industrial/metal/core tune as you could want. Under the Control of is a complete divergence from the rest of the album, being a dark, minimalist synthesis offering. I ache to hear more of this mixed with his guitar styles.
Monkey Monks has since gone on to surround Koh's vision with live players. Already the album can stand up as the little brother to Godsmack, Puddle of Mud, or Drowning Pool in contemporary metal. The only minor detraction is that a drum machine isn't a drummer. Metal simply sounds better when you can hear a skinny twitchy dude beating the shit out of a drum set.
Wait a couple years and Monky Monks won't seem like an odd name for what is one of the hardest works I've come across in a while. No one admits it, but we once all asked ourselves, "What the hell is a Red Hot Chili Pepper?"
Post: Monkey Monks, 140 W. Wilson St. #B7, Costa Mesa, CA, 92627, USA