Review by Tobias on February 26, 2014.
Monsterworks' Universe doesn't shroud its grand aspirations in supercilious pretense or stoic seriousness, nor does it lose itself in misery or darkness. In paradox to its complex arrangements and varied styles, Universe is, simply, big and fun. It’s a slightly heady experience with an almost snarky tone that manages to avoid the pitfalls of cheese overdoses, despite it’s blending of many different rock and metal elements.
Mosterworks is often described as prog-thrash or something of the sort. The concept of "progressive" works, but no other label mash-up fits them like a glove because the band seems to be Frankensteining the best of some of their favorite musical elements: progressive, thrash, psychedelic, death, rock n' roll, and a working-man's passion. The range of vocals alone is demonstrative: a clean baritone, a nasal proggy croon, a classic euro-thrash scream ala Kreator, an occasionally trippy use of deathly growls, and the very distinct and welcome influence of Rob Halford all make appearance, and quite often all in the same song.
The music, while noted for changing up a lot, is actually more laudable in the way that it transitions from one place to another; there is no shock treatment or spastically sharp contrasts to jar the listener as one would find in a Dillinger Escape Plan or Mr. Bungle record, instead there is a distinctly connected flow.
It would've been nice to get a little more of the intergalactic psychedelia in the album, but the balance provided was well struck. The riffing was probably the least impressive, but it wasn’t unimpressive, and certainly not boring. What it lacked was made up for in lead guitar that ranges from the melodic speed of Iron Maiden's Dave Murray to the slow spacey rock swoon of Funkadelic's Maggot Brain.
If one were to reverse-engineer the Frankenbaby here, I bet the formula would look something like this: (Disillusion + Kvelertak) / Devin Townsend = Monsterworks Universe
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