By Doug Walker
Monarch is a direct throwback to the late ’80s / early ’90s era of speed rock that spawned in Slayer’s wake. The band features a who’s who of metal musicians from San Diego’s north county, boasting a former/current member of list including but not limited to Cage, Nihilist, Great Electric Quest, Ratt Black… you get the idea. The band has been playing regionally for a few years, and this is their first offering.
Alex Pickard and Adam West (no, not batman) hold down a brutal machine gun rhythm section. It’s fast, it’s frantic, and it doesn’t let up. Not even a little. Ever. The drumming is an absolute showcase of stamina. It’s a very classic performance. Techniques and tricks that were used heavily in late ’80s speed metal are all over the place on this record. The bass gets a little buried in the fray, but the counter melodies are there underneath the guitars. As I very often say, I wish there was more bass, but it’s not “..And Justice for All” level buried (non existent).
Matt Smith and Casey Trask are, quite simply, putting on a guitar exhibition for the entirety of the record. The guitars aren’t layered, so what you are hearing is each of them doing one track. That’s extremely bold, but they make it work. The riffing is like Mustaine back when he still enjoyed cocaine and satan. The solos can only be described as Casey Trask solos. If you’re unfamiliar with his playing, sorry about your life choices. The guy is a walking talking heavy metal guitar clinic. Matt Smith is no slouch, either… and he provides a young Tom Araya sounding vocal performance to the record.
All in all, it’s a super solid speed metal record. You can tell its DIY when you hear it. The production has a few hiccups here and there, but the overall low fi feel of the record accentuates more than it is detrimental to the sound. It gives it an authentic feel of a killer speed metal album on a cassette in the tape deck of a 88 Camaro screaming down the highway towards oblivion.
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Release Date: September 14th 2017
1. Beheaded (4:32)
2. Memories of War (3:56)
3. Bloody Assault (4:32)
4. Dawn to Night (5:30)
5. Decadence (5:09)
6. Entropy (4:15)
7. Kill or Die (4:36)
8. Go Forth… Slaughter (7:16)
9. Sonic Reaper (5:22)
Total Duration: 44:58