June 22, 2013 by Dan Swinhoe
Canada is full of class metal of late: Annihilator, Devin Townsend, Indian Handicrafts (maybe even Anvil at a push), and now Monster Truck with their debut album, Furiosity.
Despite hailing from a country more likely to see snow drifts than sandstorms, Monster Truck play modern Southern Rock, plenty of big, swinging riffs, organ and a powerful vocalist who lies at the centre of a Venn diagram composed of Axl Rose, Neil Fallon and John Fogerty. It’s vintage classic rock with a modern stadium rock vibe.
From opener Old Train to lead single Sweet Mountain River and beyond, each track is full of energy. The band, made up of Jon Harvey (bass, lead vocals) Jeremy Widerman (guitar, vocals), Brandon Bliss (organ, vocals) and Steve Kiely (drums, vocals) deal in the big meaty riffs and southern rock as Black Stone Cherry. But are like London-based Godsized in that they’re more likely to be surrounded by snow and rain instead of sandy deserts.
The whole album plays the perfect balancing act, juggling southern rock, grunge, and classic rock. The influences are the swampy rock blues of ZZ Top, the squealing Led Zeppelin, and raw power of bands like Clutch and Guns ‘N’ Roses. Produced by Eric Ratz (Billy Talent, Three Days Grace, Cancer Bats), the album sounds huge, the riffs are muscular yet the lashings of organ provide plenty of boogie factor.
There’s plenty of variety on offer. From the pure driving rock of Physics, to anthemic rock in Sweet Mountain River, the seven minute ballad of For The Sun and almost gospel in the epic closer My Love Is True. Furiosity is a well-rounded and seriously enjoyable album. Monster Truck have created a rare thing; A Canadian Southern Rock record with soul. Definite contender for rock album of the year.
Queens OF The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
While not the turd memory suggests, Era Vulgaris wasn’t great. Too awkward, too jarring, too few killer tracks and too much filler. ..Like Clockwork, however, is different. Not a return to Songs For The Dead or Rated R, but more somber, closer to the dessert-infused landscape of the debut.
Their sixth album features little in the way of full tempo amp busters like Little Sister, but that’s ok. With the exception of the storming My God Is The Sun, it’s mostly hypnotic downers, drowning in melancholy. The Vampyre Of Time And Memory is a morose, winding number, Homme quietly musing over a simple piano refrain. If I Had A Tail is inherently somber, but retains a certain swagger about it.
I Sat By The Ocean is probably the most upbeat song on offer, bringing a pop sheen to a an otherwise sleepy desert rock number. The songwriting is top-notch, full of catchy, hook laden songs. As with most of Homme’s records, there are plenty of guests. Dave Grohl is back on drums, while Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanegan, Alex Turner, Trent Reznor, Jake Shears and Elton John all feature, none particularly stick out. Their parts are all welded nicely into the music, and the focus remains firmly on Homme.
…Like Clockwork is probably the band’s most coherent and complete record to date. Oozing retro charm but still bursting with signature QOTSA riffs, even if they are more mellow and downbeat than we’re used to. Not an instant winner, but after a few listens the quality begins to reveal itself.
[In related news, Homme’s former Kyuss bandmates have released a new song under their Vista Chino moniker. It’s pretty good.]
By Dan Swinhoe