Monsterworks [New Zealand]
The Existential Codex
Eat Lead and Die
Of the many new releases in February, one that I have particularly been raving about to friends was Monsterworks‘ new full length album, The Existential Codex. My first encounter with this Kiwi outfit was on one of their 2012 EPs, either Man :: Instincts or Man :: Intrinsic. Doesn’t matter, being the ignorant fool I was back then (and generally disliking EP releases), I paid little attention to them. It wasn’t until last year’s Overhaul that I began to discover the wonder of Monsterworks‘ art, along with my increasing open-mindedness to what different genres of music had to offer.
Working backwards from Overhaul to Universe and finally Earth, I finally managed to kind of “get” what Monsterworks was all about. Hence, with the band putting out their first release of 2015 this year with The Existential Codex, I was extremely excited for even more, erm, “super metal”.
One familiar with Monsterworks would already be used to the weirdness that they exude in their music, but with The Existential Codex, the moment the album opens with Higgs Field, one knows that this is a completely different experience. Unlike previous experiences with the band, there is a marked decrease in the in-your-face aggression than before, and what is in place is a more progressive style of songwriting, with the band fusing lots of slower, quieter and melodic moments into the music, like Mastodon gone mild. The heaviest track on the album is perhaps Ripple Effect, filled with relentless blasts by James who backs the crushing, pinch-harmonic-happy riffs of Jono and Marcus. Even then, the track is quite a far cry from the heaviness presented in preceding Monsterworks material
It is really hard to pick one particular aspect of the album that I really like, as each of the members in the band go to prove their individual abilities, all the while coming together coherently into one hell of a record. For instance, the crazed vocals of Jono, along with the rather heavy atmosphere that cloaks The Existential Codex even reminds me of Devin Townsend‘s style at times. The lead guitars of Marcus display the wide range of influences that have gone into the writing of his solos, with the bluesy one on Engine being particularly charming.
Of course, the highlight is the overall songwriting approach here. Acoustic moments on Engine before the ensuing chaos even left me with some Pink Floyd vibes. Temple of Distortion on the other hand brings in some Opeth meets Porcupine Tree resemblance, sure to please prog-rock and metal fans.
The Existential Codex may see Monsterworks leaving a familiar, albeit already weird, territory, but the expanded sound that the band provides over here definitely makes it one of the more memorable releases with what little contact I have with the band thus far.
Download the digital edition of The Existential Codex at this location.
Tracklisting (digital edition):
1. Higgs Field
2. Ripple Effect
4. Temple of Distortion
5. Tapping the Void
6. The Ride
Favourite picks: Higgs Field, Engine