Released: Nov 3, 2009
Genre: Pop Rock, Emo
Label: Tooth and Nail, Virgin
Number Of Tracks: 12
The Almosts new record reaches its peak when the band doesnt fear straying from the usual pop-rock format.
Monster MonsterFeatured review by: UG Team, on november 18, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Underoath drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie branched out almost five years ago in an effort to create The Almost, a side project that was a significant step away from the metalcore sound of his original band. The Almost follows more of a traditional pop rock sound, which certainly allows Gillespieâs clean vocal skills to have more of a focus â and deservedly so. The Almost has released two EPs since the initial full-length release (an impressive feat after only a few yearsâ time), and some of the songs on those releases will now get a bit more attention by appearing on the bandâs second full-length album Monster Monster. Itâs not necessarily a groundbreaking album by any means, but the highlights do put Gillespieâs songwriting skills in a positive light.
The first few tracks of Monster Monster arenât the most effective in terms of grabbing listenersâ attention, and in many ways they seem like every other stale pop-rock tune out there. The title track has somewhat of a punk sensibility, but the chorus â although memorable â doesnât pack the necessary punch. âLonely Wheelâ again follows a familiar pop format with the usual power chords, but there are some promising moments when guitarists Jay Vilardi and Dusty Redmon lay down lead lines to enhance the lackluster groundwork.
Things pick up about halfway through when Gillespie and crew opt to experiment a bit more. âHand Grenadeâ features more of an alternative country vibe, with the wise addition of steel guitar (played by Chris Scruggs and John Davis) that takes the arrangement to a new level of musicality. âWant Toâ is of the few songs on the album that focuses on more of a rock sound rather than pop, and it doesnât hurt to have a huge, memorable chorus. âSummer Summerâ is a pensive, but effective offering, with one of the highlights being a beautiful piano outro played by Josiah Holland.
Oddly enough, the most stripped-down track of the bunch, âMonsterâ (not to be confused with the other track âMonster Monsterâ), is also the best on the new CD. Every other track relies on a big power chord transition, but the players in The Almost restrain themselves until the very last moments. Several verses go by with only vocals and an acoustic, which is enhanced by some incredible blues licks. The whole band does enter into the picture in the last minutes, there has been a big enough build-up to the crescendo. // 7
Lyrics and Singing: Although the band is labeled as a Christian band, the themes within Monster Monster are primarily about human relationships that anyone can relate to regardless of your faith. Most of the tracks discuss the importance that a particular individual has had on the songwriterâs life, which means that youâre going to be hearing more emo-driven lyrics. Whether in âNo I Donâtâ (âIâve got another song in me; Because of you, Iâm changing; Iâm learning how to wait; Ugly as I could have beenâ) or âSouls On Tenâ (Youâve changed my mind; About who Iâve been; Youâve kept this heart; From wondering am I alive or deadâ), there is plenty of content devoted to people evolving emotionally. Some of the songs do tend to blend together in terms of their lyrical construction, but the message on the whole is positive one. // 7
Impression: Monster Monster wonât blow you away from start to finish with its musical innovation, but there are high points along the way. Gillespie, who had to take on drumming duties on this record as well, has a keen sense of melody and that is the bandâs driving point. While some of the tracks do broach on being too familiar or mundane, The Almost make up for it when they venture into unfamiliar territory in âHand Grenade.â After hearing the final track âMonsterâ (which is a 180-degree switch from the opener âMonster Monsterâ), The Almost would probably benefit from releasing a full-length album filled with only acoustic material. // 8
sg4ever, on october 25, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: To write The Almost off as another pop/rock band is not really doing them justice. If you take a listen to a couple singles then you might reach that conclusion when listening to songs like Say This Sooner or Hands, but listen to this album and you'll see a nice range of sounds and interplay going on. Songs like Monster Monster have a decidedly punk feel, but there is a slinkier and ratty feel to it that's more akin to an older punk sound. Across the album they juggle pop/rock that ranges from feelgood to serious and brooding, grungy alternative that demonstrates more aggression, almost country sounding ballads with pedal steel. There is a variety of guitar textures from over-ringing strings, to melodic delayed lines, to octaves, to ratty bends, to bluesy fills and slide licks, to a couple guitar solos that sound at home on a 60s or 70s rock record. They also use some suspended and 7th voiced chords instead of regular major/minor voicings and powerchords. The instrumentation ranges from country/folk sounding acoustic, to electric guitar in varying states of cleanliness and overdrive, not just full distortion and pristine cleans, but TEXTURES (I'm all about the texture). There are also some nice vocals and harmonies throughout the album. The final track actually does something here and showcases a textbook example of quiet restraint with a loud finish. Add in the bluesy vibe and the live jam and we have something interesting and DIFFERENT.
Not to leave out the compatibility of the band members; they are quite tight. It's not just on these recordings, but live. The drums carry a nice beat that doesn't get stuck in just the basics of the time signature, but creates some memorable beats and fills. The bass playing creates a nice groove that doesn't take over, but perhaps could be slightly more intricate. It does mesh with the drums decently enough (which is important). The guitar parts are intertwining and playing off each other, but not cluttered. Aaron taking care of a lot of rhythm guitar frees things up for this.
Final verdict? Maybe it's not the most innovative stuff, but it's pretty fresh and expressive sounding (because music is really expression, right?) considering this is mainstream pop/rock. Kudos on sound. // 8
Lyrics and Singing: These guys are a Christian based band and their faith is important to them, but the lyrics can be taken from a normal perspective. Maybe they aren't very special lyrics, but they have a message. The general them of the album lyrics seem to be centered around coming to terms with one's flaws and finding ways to reconcile them and also about finding meaning in life. This them gets applied to topics ranging from personal problems and evaluation, loneliness, to friendship and relationships, to forgiveness. Maybe they aren't the most eloquent lyrics, but they are deep more in how we can relate to them rather than how poetic and mysterious they are. Like all good lyrics, there is one theme to the song but multiple manners of interpretation if you are so inclined. They mesh well with the music. I must reiterate that a lot of this can be taken from a Christian point of view if viewed from out of the "religious" box and fromn a more personal outlook, but it doesn't have to be. If spiritual things aren't your bag, there are plenty of other conclusions you can reach with these lyrics and they all drive home positive yet realistic messages.
The singing on the album is pretty similar to most pop/rock, but Aaron still sounds like Aaron. He goes from a low tone and some whispering, to medium range melodic singing, to sustained high notes, to a more gritty sound. He's not the most outstanding singer in the world, but his voice is pretty decent and matches the music. // 8
Impression: You might be able to dig some artists out that sounds like The Almost or vice versa, but for the most part they sound like themselves and I don't hear any direct copying going on. I can't really compare them to anyone else I care to listen to. Some notable tracks are Monster Monster, No I Don't, Young Again, Hand Grenade, and Monster. I can't say I hate anything about this at all or else I wouldn't have it. Albums don't please me too well if there is something I hate on them. If I lost the cd or this got erased from my itunes, I would definitely buy it again. Maybe this isn't your cup of tea, but then again, music is pretty subjective. I approve. // 9
natuMzzri, on april 29, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Almost has gone from being basically one man recording all the instruments and singing to release his debut Southern Weather, to a set 4-peice band to come back with their sophomore effort: Monster Monster. After hearing bits and peices of songs and all of "Hands" & "Lonely Wheel", I was pretty pumped to hear what Aaron Gillepsie had done with his sound and what influence three other people had on him. So did they change their sound? Fortunately, only slightly. What they did was take The Almost, improve it so it wasn't exactly the same, and even incorporated some new elements into some songs. The sound of Southern Weather is there, but it's clear that the band wanted to take a small step in a new direction.
The album starts off with Monster Monster. The title track introduces their experimentation. It's aggressive like Say This Sooner, but it's got something their first album didn't have...guitar solos! This song is fast-paced and heavy. Not heavy like Say This Sooner, their last opening song, but one of the more heavy parts of this album.
Next on the tracklist is their second single Lonely Wheel. This is an encouraging, upbeat song, the guitar is good with more lead guitar in the background. It also has a hint of the Souther Weather album style.
No I Don't is a half-acoustic song, a not-so-new element to The Almost. It has a country sound to it, like Dirty and Left Out off of Southern Weather. The chorus is catchy with more guitar lead in it, with positive lyrics. It's not so much heavy as it is just another good upbeat song.
Their first single "Hands" begs for radio play, being the more poppy song with beautiful piano peices to start it out and gang vocals in the chorus. There is no question here why this was picked as their leading single.
Aaron's heavier side begins to show again with Young Again. It begins with an aggressive guitar riff, with lyrics to match it. Aaron attempts his yell/scream kind of thing in this song. The instrumentation is reminiscent to the song Southern Weather.
Then the album slows down again with one of my favorite songs on the album- Summer Summer. It starts off with a slow lead guitar and it stays slow through the verse. The chorus is poppy but the climax of the song. a very well done, emotional song.
Monster Monster continues the slow tempo of the album with Hand Grenade. This is a completely acoustic song with the country sound almost exactly like Dirty and Left Out. Although it's country and slow, it's still a very good song.
One of the weaker tracks, Books and Books, brings back the aggressiveness and heaviness of the album back. Aaron sounds kind of angry and sarcastic throughout the whole song. The drums are good in this song and they use a lot of effects and feedback. The chorus is slower than the rest, then the bridge includes a guitar solo.
Souls on Ten is just a good mood, summery (?) kind of song. It's got a piano in it and a cheerfull sound to it. Just about being out with the one you love and not worrying about anything.
"Want To" and "Get Through" seem like fillers before the six minute long closer "Monster". Monster is another acoustic song.
Overall it seems like The Almost experimented with their softer side, included more upbeat, happier songs, and kept some of the heaviest elements of Southern Weather. If you liked their debut, I would give Monster Monster a try. // 8
Lyrics and Singing: There's no doubt that Aaron Gillepsie can sing. He's got a wide range, going from the lows to a whiny, but not annoying, high voice. He's a unique singer and musician, and he deserves to have a lead singing part, unlike his other band, UnderĂATH.
As for the lyrics, they're good, but not Spencer Chamberlain or Stephen Christian lyrics. The lyrics on Monster Monster range from forgivness (Hand Grenade) to friendship (Summer Summer) to comfort (Lonely Wheel) to just having a good time (Souls on Ten) to other subjects (Rest of Songs; P) Most of the songs are easy to figure out the general meaning, and although Aaron Gillepsie is a devout Christian, not all the songs are based around Christianity. That being said, The Almost is for any audiance who likes just a relaxed rock. // 8
Impression: My overall impression: well it's not an UnderĂATH album, but it's not supposed to be. It's better than Southern Weather in my opinion because it's got more diversity than their debut. They're now a full band and not just Aaron G. anymore so it's not just one person's ideas.
The only thing I have a problem with is that the slower songs aren't spaced out enough. For example, the first song is heavy, then Lonely Wheel isn't as heavy, and then No I Don't is acoustic. Again, Summer Summer is followed by Hand Grenade. The other thing is that the album could've left out Want To and Get Through. But with those things aside it is a very good album. Considering that I don't actually own the album- it's my brother who does- I wouldn't go and buy another copy if a lost it. I would make him do it.
Best Songs: Lonely Wheel, No I Don't, Hands, Summer Summer, Souls On Ten. // 8