By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal
Los Angeles based stoner metal trio Behold! The Monolith released their second full-length album “Defender, Redeemist” this year, an album that showcases their progress as musicians since their 2009 self-titled full length release, and is an absolute must-listen for all fans of heavy music. Besides the albums, their live performance also gets them instant attention and approval from first-timers. Just a few days ago, I caught up with guitarist Matt Price to talk to him about the album, past shows, the LA metal scene and future plans. Read the conversation below, and order the album or check out the band online by using the links posted at the bottom.
The first conclusion I drew from listening to your new album “Defender, Redeemist” is, you definitely went into a more doom metal direction, as compared to your older material. Do you agree with that?
Somewhat…I think we just went in a more “metal” direction in general. We’re fans of so many types of metal and we try to make it all fit. I think our choice in more “classic” instruments and some old school loud as fuck tube amps lends to the doomy vibe… that and Billy Andersons production.
Was this change in musical style just a natural thing that came about, or was it deliberate?
It was natural…nothing was ever forced. Our drummer Chase joining had a lot to do with it. He has more aggressive metal chops then our old drummer, who was more into groove/stoner rock stuff. The sound we have now with “Defender, Redeemist” is more what Kevin and I had in mind from the start.
How did you approach the songwriting on the longer tunes on the album? Did you write those piece-by-piece in multiple sessions, or all of it in one go?
Both. That “Cast On The Black…Southern Cross” song definitely came together in pieces. “Redeemist” and “Bull Collosi” we had kinda a template of where we thought they should go from the start. It’s kinda whatever works, you know?
You worked with producer Billy Anderson on this album, and of course he has worked with bands like Sleep, High On Fire and Neurosis. Do you think he has made your album sound somewhat similar to those bands, in terms of the production alone?
Yes and No. It’s funny, Billy has kinda his signature thing going on…but I thought “Defender, Redeemist” was somewhat cleaner than some of the bands you mentioned production-wise. I mean “Dopesmoker” and those early High On Fire records have this fuzzier, awesome low-end bombast which I/we love! I thought the sounds on our record were a little dryer…the guitars more “Marshall-y”. We take the HoF comparisons as a big compliment…I mean we are a very Sabbath influenced, down-tuned power trio, and my name is only a couple letters off from Matt Pike for fuck’s sake so the comparisons are probably kinda unavoidable (laughs). We’re big fans but we do try to do things a bit different where we can.
Is it important for you to capture the vibe of your live performance onto the album, and make it a representation of how you sound on stage?
Yes, but we like to have the freedom to add layers of stuff and ear-candy in the studio. They really are two different animals in my opinion. My favorite bands, especially from the 1970’s like Sabbath, Purple, Queen etc. sounded one way live and another on the album and that was awesome. Sometimes when a band sound EXACTLY like the album live it kinda bums me out. We went for a really live vibe on the basic tracks but as we played them for a while they seem to get more aggressive at shows.
Talking of live performances, what have you guys been up to since the album’s release, in terms of gigs?
We’re just trying to get out more…mostly just regionally right now. But we really want to do a full US tour and get out to Europe within the next year or so.
I remember there was supposed to be a show at the Five Star Bar in early February, and it was canceled due to some venue issues. I loved underground LA venues like that. Where do you see the underground LA metal scene going in the future? Do you think there are enough number of venues left?
It’s hard to say. It seems like the scene always finds a place to go….whenever one of those places close or stop having shows another place for shows always pops up.
The first time I saw you was at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, when you opened up for legendary LA metal band Armored Saint, in May 2010. What memories do you have from that show?
Good sound, free food and our own dressing room with our name on the door (laughs). And a cool crowd! We weren’t sure what to expect but Armored Saint’s fans at the show really seemed to dig us so we were stoked.
How do you feel when the media compares you to legends like Motorhead and Celtic Frost?
It feels great! We love those bands. They are a couple of our most basic influences.
Speaking of Motorhead, I find it amazing that Lemmy is still doing strong after all these years, playing music that’s as heavy and loud as anything he’s ever done, and not giving a fuck. That must be an inspiration to musicians like you to stick to your guns no matter what, isn’t it?
Of course…you gotta do what you love if you can!
What can we expect from you guys for the rest of the year? Are there any gigs in the pipeline?
Well more shows, hopefully some touring. We also plan on releasing “Defender, Redeemist” on vinyl this year. Other than that we’re just writing and writing more stuff…so maybe an EP in the can before the year is out.
What are some of the LA-based bands that you are particularly fans of, and enjoy playing with?
Iron Mtn and Destroy Judas are always great to play with. Obviously playing with Armored Saint and Holy Grail was kinda awesome. Playing with Intronaut was cool…they’re a great band. We’re looking forward to playing with Sacha from Intronaut’s Doom band Bereft as well as an upcoming show with Ides of Gemini. I really like what I’ve seen and heard from them. I know there are probably quite a few I’m forgetting, so my apologies (laughs).