Nestling in what certainly appears to be a potent time in the Italian rock/metal scene right now is Pistoia hailing outfit Monkey Ranch. Fuelled by a multi-flavoured alternative rock styled sound, the band’s debut album Alone is an ear pleasing introduction to a band ready to nudge attention beyond their homeland’s borders.
Monkey Ranch was formed in 2012 by vocalist/guitarist Iacopo Ferrari, bassist Jacopo Geri, and drummer Alessio Petrucci with its current line-up of guitarist Francesco Ceccarelli and drummer Iacopo Sichi alongside Ferrari and Geri in place during the following year. Their sound is a grunge/hard rock based proposal rich in blues nurtured textures and lyrical incitement. It is a captivating mix not always overly unique within Alone but persistently providing plenty to find strong enjoyment in.
The album opens up with The Butcher, grooves instantly winding themselves around ears grabbing attention as they lay the ground for the potent tones of Ferrari. From there the song swiftly reveals the spice in the band’s sound, blues nurtured grooves and plaintive melodies colluding with bold, aggression laced rhythms and a raw grunge bred character. It is a fiery mix with few surprises but much to grab and satisfy ears with.
Without Chains follows with a less forceful nature as warm melodies coax attention while vocals again make a strong lure, the track’s emotive heart blossoming with every second. Its magnetism is equal to the first song though, a Pearl Jam like essence only adding to its appeal before Danny Boy and Freedom swing and stroll through ears respectively. The first has grouchiness in its blood which compliments the infectiousness in its gait and fire in its grooves while its successor is a captivating blend of warm harmonies and melodic enterprise also driven by an instinctive catchiness which has hips and imagination swiftly and eagerly involved.
Recent single Renegade steps forward next, a country rock scented twang slipping into melodic endeavour to nicely mix with a feistier grunge growl as its natural swagger easily tempts. It is an instinctively welcomed persuasion matched in its own individual way by Unhappy Stories. The song is a smouldering roar which makes it very easy to find a keen appetite for. With familiarity on its side to add to its stylish presence, the song nurtures a tenacious snarl in bass and riffs; a grouchy edge erupting throughout the encounter but never defusing its emotive angst and melodic seduction.
Picture of You steals best track honours straight after, its punk lined rock ‘n’ roll a thumping arousal of ears and appetite with an irritably delicious bassline which alones demands a lusty reaction. As great as other songs are, it stands for us head and shoulders above all though the country spiced stroll of Dance of the Witch is no light weight in sealing eager attention next, or indeed Remember Me after that with its hard and blues rock flames around punchy rhythms.
The album comes to a potent close with This One, an initially atmospheric lure all the time breeding a tapestry of blues rock which slowly but surely catches flame winy melody by moody rhythm and vocal expression. At over ten minutes, the song does outlast personal preference but there is no escaping the craft and imagination in its depths ensuring Alone ends strongly.
Monkey Ranch will be making their presence known for the first time with a great many through Alone and such its highly enjoyable offering, it is a union destined to be repeated again and again as the band grows from this potent start.
Alone is released February 3rd on Red Cat Records.
Pete RingMaster 31/01/2017
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