Surrounded by Monsters – Novella (Nuclear Blast Records)

Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Rating: 6/10

When an album kicks things off with a track entitled “Dr. Phuck”, one can begin to assume a few things about what’s about to come roaring out of the speakers, and none of those several assumptions are good. True to their band name, album art, and song titles, Surrounded by Monsters are spazcore enthusiasts one and all. Hey guys (and gal, ironically), there’s this one band called iwrestledabearonce that’s had this sound good and covered for a while now…

There’s not a whole lot of detail to go into for this stuff; honestly, if you’ve heard IWABO, you’ve heard SBM. And much like the writing of their predecessors in the arts of spaz, there’s so many random musical ingredients thrown carelessly together in this album that it overinflates itself into a bloated and rather undercooked casserole of nothing. The tracks trudge along through beatdowns, frantic blast-beaty riffs, some synths and female singing, and an incredibly annoying main vocalist: a raspy tenor voice with highs, middles, lows and absolutely no grey areas, offering no distinction from the legions of other post-hardcore-oriented metalcore screamers out there. I mean, come on bro. Give the kids something to go on here! Are you Austin Carlile or Danny Worsnop? A spliced clone of both? Whenever you make up your mind, I’m still going to have to pass on it.

As the album dragged on, 4/10 was slowly but surely creeping up on this motley crew. However, they do deserve some musicianship points, because at the end of the day some of the instrumentals on this record would be damned hard to play, let alone memorize and pull off nicely live. And it’s more than possible that Surrounded by Monsters and their mentors in IWABO could serve as an introduction to progressive music for all the tweeners out there. Let’s hope so…

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