Now You Know: Monsterworks

Saturday, 19th October 2013

Formation: 1996
Location: London, England
Style: Highly-productive progressive metal with deep, cerebral concepts to boot.
Personnel: Jon (vocals/guitars); Hugo (drums); James (bass); Marcus (lead guitar).
Latest release: Earth (Mortal Music)

Sometimes, the best-laid or most unorthodox of plans don’t pan out the way one wishes. Case in point, Monsterworks and their 2012 Album of Man release. Originally split into releases with three chunks of songs at a time spread across a calendar year, the band admittedly, failed to hit the mark, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The album format just might be dead, that’s all. “I was reading an article today called ‘The Album is Dead’ or something like that which was suggesting ways of marketing an EP because, allegedly, no one is interested in albums anymore,” begins singer/guitarist Jon. “There was a similar thinking behind the release of Album of Man as chunks of three songs at a time, however, it was not really appropriate for us as it turned out. Particularly because the album was originally conceived as a complete unit…and yet we broke it up for release…which in retrospect was crazy.”

Not crazy DR surmises, just another workaround in a crowded, highly competitive marketplace. Jon continues: “The purpose was to encourage reviewers/media to be willing and able to digest the material more quickly…but it just confused everyone because it seemed obvious it was part of a bigger album. It was my fault for not recognizing that. Hindsight.

“I never did believe that the album format was dead, especially in metal,” he continues. “My personal preference is for a solid 38 to 50 minutes; a bit less if its brutal or technical death metal because that works better in a shorter form: Death – Human was about 30 minutes I think, most early Deicide was about the same. Reign in Blood is 28 minutes but no one would dare to call that an EP. Enough said.”

Self-described and tagged as “Supermetal,” Monsterworks certainly have the technical pedigree and technical know-how to get things done in a compartmentalized Nevermore-on-Death fashion. It’s more evident than ever on their new album, Earth, which like Album of Man is another conceptual piece, this time, according to Jon is about “The simple observation that astronauts often come back from space fundamentally affected and become outspoken about the responsibility we have to take care of our planet – because they have actually seen it for what it is: a beautiful blue marble floating in space that exists, along with us, against almost impossible odds.”

For an album as complex and multi-faceted as Earth, DR was surprised to learn Monsterworks embarked on a total of three rehearsals prior to recording. It sure doesn’t sound as such, but according to Jon, there were some rushed moments prior to the album’s completion.

“Hugo contributed the black metal track ‘Bookended by Extinction’ during the final stages,” he admits. “I told him I needed something to represent dinosaurs dying because for years he has been going on about doing a grind album, each track based on a type of dinosaur. That crazy guy. I wrote lyrics within weeks of the recording dates because I tend to forget that job until the last minute. Although I did spend quite a long time gathering information and notes for lyrics before actually starting to put them together. I read a lot of Wikipedia!”

According to Jon, work has already begun on the follow-up to Earth, with the title of Universe being the frontunner. Until then, the band will fish around the U.K. for some gigs, hope to get the incorrect note on their Metal Archives that they’re from New Zealand fixed (“I left NZ 11 years ago and none of the other members have even been there, but who cares.”) and continue to work on their visibility through their near-annual release schedule.

“That would sound logical, but ‘visible’ has several connotations,” he wraps. “One is having new material and a current release – we have that in spades; the other is getting out on the road, maybe under the wing of a more established band – that side of things we suck at. Visibility also comes down to who you know and who is willing to put you on the front page of their magazine or whatever. I have always strongly believed in our music and feel it has been consistent over the years – and that it offers something unique, but actually “breaking out” to a wider audience has been nigh on impossible, particularly when we have no discernible image to trade off.”

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