Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Album Review: Monsterworks - Black Swan Annihilation

In the grand scheme of things, I haven't been a critic for all that much time. A few years is really nothing, but it is enough time to have cycled through several bands, where you get to cover multiple albums, which shows the evolution of both time and music. And then there is a band like Monsterworks, who puts out records at a steady and rapid clip, to the point where I'm honestly not sure how many times I've come across them now. What I can say is that they release music often enough that the vivid freshness I felt the first time I heard them is a thing of the past, and the uniqueness they possess has blended together. Each record has been less thrilling than the last, precisely because I know I'm going to be hearing it again not too long from now. But still, I soldier on.

The theme of this record is destruction, and the fall of mankind, which should tell you about how uplifting the music is going to be. "Immortalist" kicks the record off with all the usual Monsterworks tropes. There's a few classic metal riffs, plenty of growled and shrieked vocals, and a structure that wanders off the straight and narrow. It's expectedly schizophrenic, which is a sentence that I think says everything there is to say about Monsterworks at this point. If you know going in that the songs will not always make sense, and will be a bit crazy, the effect is completely dulled.

Much of that could be overcome, however, if the songs were as sharp and as focused as they were on "Album Of Man", but that has not been the case since then. Each album since then has stripped away the elements of fun and catchiness, in favor of an approach that is more serious, but more boring. By becoming so singularly death metal focused in the vocals, the songs rarely, if ever, have any hooks that would make this enjoyable to sit through. Even in comics, The Joker is usually trying to have a good time.

The problem Monsterworks has always had is that their approach to 'supermetal' is so diverse that you have to be a fan of every influence they draw from to truly enjoy the records they make. That's a recipe for failure, and this record doesn't do much to persuade me they know the right direction to go anymore. As a death metal band, they aren't particularly ferocious, and as a regular metal band, they aren't particularly melodic. Instead of juxtaposing the light and dark, they've muddled everything into a muddy grayish brown. This record is sort of like looking at a mud puddle after a soaking rain, rather than looking up to the rainbow in the sky.

That's the poetic way of saying that there isn't anything about "Black Swan Annihilation" I would recommend. It's a record that only serves to remind me of the power of first impressions, and that if you want to hear what Monsterworks sound should be, "Album Of Man" is the only record you need to bother with.

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