Founded in New Zealand in the early 1990s, Monsterworks are hailing from London these days, with Scale and Probability being their 15th full-length production. Not tying themselves to one particular genre, this band most notably works with heavy, progressive, black, thrash and death metal influences and merges them into a coherent atmospheric whole. Their newest album deals with cosmic topics – contact with extraterrestrials, the lonely drifting through the stars, spiritual searching and also the human strife for a development towards improvement and perfection. This philosophical album is no musical fast food, which is already reflected in the carefully produced booklet explaining the meaning behind the song lyrics. Scale and Probability wants to be digested slowly, probably with a glass of red wine, no distraction, and eyes closed.
The Great Silence starts quietly and slowly, with contemplative melodies in the background; after a while, the drums set in thoughtfully and already point the listener into a progressive direction that this album is going to take, even though they are technically still quite understated. And what a voice! – heart-wrenchingly desperate and touching the listener to the marrow, it establishes a perfect symbiosis with the melancholic and brightly singing guitar. The following faster motif is unfortunately not moved into with much ease but the track further develops what has been started motif-wise into something more forward-moving. The voice continues to hypnotise with an impressive variation between screams, growls and more clean vocals while, however, some of the instrumental sound production seems to disturb the dramatic atmosphere. The drums sound rather flat and shrill, which continues to be an issues throughout the entire record, and the guitars at times lac a certain depth that would have made the skilled compositions stand out way more flatteringly. As we move into a slower section the guitar is wonderfully warm and smooth, though, which contrasts impressively with a raw singing voice. With 8:25, this track is pretty long but manages to pick up a bit of the tension it has lost in the middle towards the very end. In general, the carefully established epic atmosphere reminds of German heavy doom metallers Atlantean Kodex.
This impression is totally supported by the wonderfully doomy riff with which The Weight of Emptiness sets in – it really seems to convey what the song title promises. The tempo is solemnly carried, which immediately makes the drums sound a bit more substantial, and the polyphonic vocals oscillating between raspy singing and growls convey pain and desperation. Overall, this song seems a lot more coherent but sometimes confuses with slightly off-sounding instrumental transitions.
After what feels like too long a silence, Cosmic Deadly Probe is finally introduced with brutal and thrashy drumming as well as most evil screaming somewhat reminiscent of old black metal tapes, supported by dark growls. The ear-piercing guitar sound makes a great combination with this aural upheaval; later on, we also get to hear a beautifully plastic guitar sound unfolding in a melodic and passionate solo passage. Cymbals set in, we expect a break but – we realise the song is over, after less than three minutes. What a pity as it seemed to have promised a further development of impressive musical themes.
The Revea boasts with slow shredding, progressive beats and a bit of a Tool feel when it comes to both vocals and instrumentation at the beginning. The a little more contained but technically interesting drums convey a prog-rock vibe and meditative slowness; they in fact please the ear a lot more than in the foregoing songs. The move into a more quiet part does not seem to run smoothly when it comes to the instruments but the outstanding vocals keep tying everything together and make the listener forgive pretty much everything.
All Truths Be True is moved into with a warm-sounding and trickling guitar motif; as soon as the at times polyphonic vocals varying between raspiness and softness set in, the epic atmosphere is chiseled into stone. The drum sound unfortunately seems a little too cold and flat and the move into quietness seems a little sudden as well. At least, this suddenness is consistent throughout the whole album and appears to be a conscious artistic choice.
The last song Ockham’s Razor is the longest on this record but not boring at all. As a reviewer, I felt taking notes was just not fair to the experience – overall, the track is contemplative, hypnotic, gloomy and, yes, adventurous. It creates immense tension and calm at the same time and convinces with skilled and continually surprising song-writing.
All in all, this album is nothing if you want an instant gratification fix of heaviness; take your time, lean back and let Monsterworks transport you into the emptiness of outer space.
You can get “Scale and Probability” HERE!