Certainly not an album you can fully absorb and investigate on one, two, even a third listen, Earth the new release from New Zealand metallers Monsterworks is a towering enthralling journey through time and invention. Fusing almost every metal style you can imagine into fluid and seamless soundscapes which suggest and paint more imaginative portraits in a few minutes of descriptive notes than can be found in a thousand words, the band has come up with one of this year’s major evocations. It is a masterful release which reveals and rewards much more with each eager encounter.
Now London, UK based, Monsterworks has repeatedly stretched their and the listener’s boundaries since 2000 debut album Dimensional Urgency right through 5 further albums, with the latter releases especially The God Album and last year the sensational Man :: Instincts EP, which was our introduction to the band, venturing deeper into an ever expanding creative ingenuity. The EP, now listening to leading to this seventh full length release, was definitely a portent of things to come with Earth the stunning evolution of its craft. Released via Eat Lead and Die Music, the album to simplify things is progressive metal at its most imaginative and potent, but a release which fuses almost every essential essence of the vast realm of metal into a soundtrack covering the journey of our planet from the first union of rock and minerals left over from a supernova explosion forming a globe orbiting an infant star through to the entrance of man and beyond. The album provides a masterful sonic narrative to a chronologically progressing theme with all the melodic colours and sonic explication needed to captivate and incite the fullest imagination.
The album opens with From Dust and Gravity, the track from a quiet unbothered ambience slowly emerging to bring solid slabs of roving rhythms and heated guitar beckoning together before scorching the air around them with great sonically squalling vocals and a heightened rise in intensity and energy. At this point of contact there is a heavy/classic metal mix with an almost post hardcore intensity, an At The Drive In fire wrapping the song before it explores a stronger progressive and melodic metal temptation. To be honest like with all the tracks it is hard if not impossible to keep account of all the irresistible twists and flavours employed, and would certainly take all day to present here for the whole album, but every turn and sweeping venture is skilled and a natural fit to what came before and is to come which really is all you need to know..
The following Late Heavy Bombardment is a heavily weighted confrontation, vocals and rhythms coarse and thunderous with a thrash lilt to the riffs and a predacious tone to the guitars and their sonic descripts. A mix of light and blackened shadows the track feels like it is a dawning from within the dark, dangers and foreboding still rife but being seeded with adventure and new beginnings. Its intensive provocation makes way for the wonder and melodic warmth of Last Universal Ancestor, its opening tender touch an evolution of the hints in its predecessor before erupting into a rigorous sonic jeopardy with the guitars sculpting a web of sonic intrigue and fire bred fervour licking around the tale of the song and ear with a classic metal fuelled tongue. The vocals are exceptional, a delivery and scope as diverse as the sounds being brewed and perfectly in league with their intent.
Both the scintillating call of Oxygenation with its black and progressive not forgetting heavy metal simmering cocktail of invention, and the rapacious aggressively impacting Powered by Fate impressively take thoughts and emotions through the widest range of sounds and experiences with the first of the pair arguably the highest pinnacle of the album. It is hard not to be further impressed by how each track expertly represents or at least suggests the state and climate of the growing world at the point they explore so powerfully and one assumes accurately, as shown further by the brief but destructive Bookended by Extinction and the excellent Aeon of Man, two songs which thrust the senses and imagination into a cauldron of the seemingly annihilatory transitions between stages of Earth’s growth and the emergence of the beauty of man and life respectively. The second of the two songs is another major highlight, the track a raging festival and dance of energy and enterprise with a stoner swagger and hard rock groove marking the ‘birth’ and a blacker metal suggesting the rabid hunger and shadows which equally come in tow.
The album is completed by the nine minute expanse of the title track, the song like a summary of all that came before and brought the planet to the completion of the previous song as well as a prelude to the next brewing chapter in evolution. It brings an outstanding album to the perfect close emotionally and creatively, leaving the listener the only option to learn more by taking Earth’s rangy exploration again…and again. In regard to being one of the albums of the year, it and Monsterworks certainly make a compelling case.
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