By Carl Begai
A Monster’s Life is a benchmark record that dictates just how high and how far The New Black has to shoot the next time they hit the studio. Four albums into their career, the German rockers have adopted The KISS Concept (Keep It Simple, Stupid) with unexpectedly mindblowing results. Not to say they’ve existed under a cloud of suckitude up to this point, but of the delightfully old-school 10-song romp of A Monster’s Life there’s really only one track (‘A Pill Named Ting’) that falls flat. The New Black have always been more rock than metal, big on melodies and the almighty guitar riff, and they’ve managed to take their best ideas and string them together while leaving most of the unnecessary fat on the studio floor. Best guess is that Volbeat producer Jacob Hansen had a valuable hand in the carving, but credit where it’s due to the band for having the balls to keep things compact in this bloated “more is more” world.
Folks following The New Black will be pleased to hear the familiar high speed Motörhead-isms, and they’ve always had the Rocktallica feel to their sound in the spirit of Volbeat that’s so pronounced on A Monster’s Life. ‘Long Time Coming’, ‘Dead In The Water’, ‘Blockbuster Life’ and ‘Better’ are the requisite supercharged headbangers this band is so good at, while anthems ‘With A Grin’, ‘That’s Your Poison, Not Mine’ and ‘Buddha Belly’ crush anything of their kind they’ve served up before now. Favourite track of the moment is ‘The Beer Of No Return’ for bashing out everything new about The New Black in the space of three-and-a-bit minutes. And ‘Send In The Clowns’ is one of those bluesy ballad-esque tracks every rock radio band desperate for airplay would kill for.
It has to be said that for a band penning English lyrics as a second language, some of ’em are bloody brilliant (see ‘With A Grin’ and ‘Buddha Belly’). On top of that, although vocalist Fludid has a seemingly static mid-range he is remarkably versatile, always keeping things interesting rather than phoning in his performances. I chalk that up to The New Black’s five members working as a unit and playing to each other’s strengths rather than worrying about who gets to steer the showboat.
It’s way too early to talk about an Album Of The Year, but A Monster’s Life has secured a spot in my Top 10 judging by how often I’ve played the damn thing since it showed up in my mailbox.
“Long Time Coming”
“With A Grin”
“Send In The Clowns”
“Dead In The Water”
“The Beer Of No Return”
“A Pill Named Ting”
“That’s Your Poison, Not Mine”