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Formed in New Zealand in the mid ’90s, but based in London since 2003, MONSTERWORKS are one of the best and most prolific bands you have never heard of. Unless, of course, you have. Unbelievably, particularly if this is your introduction to the band, this is their sixteenth full-length album, and it amounts to a superb entry point into a fascinating and largely unsung catalogue. Ostensibly, MONSTERWORKS are a progressive metal band, but they never sound like any other progressive metal band. Nor do they sound much like anyone else from any other metallic subgenre, such is their subtly skewed take on heavy music.
The sprawling melodrama of opener “Impending Doom” should give newcomers the clearest indication of what to expect from the rest of “Malignment”. Doomy, dissonant, knee deep in death metal vibes and yet never quite adhering to any standard notions of such things, it’s a nine-minute showcase for this band’s uniquely left-of-center sound. Steeped in the widescreen bluster of post-metal, spectrally connected to grunge’s psychedelic end and blessed with a PINK FLOYD-like sense of ebb and flow, it’s the kind of immersive, genre-blurring epic that MONSTERWORKS have been churning out for a long time.
It’s impossible to pin them down to just one mode of delivery, however. Shorter tracks like “Harness the Engine” and “Eye of Darkness” confirm that there is as much SABBATH and black metal bubbling in the MONSTERWORKS cauldron as there is melody or psychedelia. What is truly impressive is how it all blends seamlessly together, from the angsty, angular sludge of “Post Everything” and the lumbering menace of death/doom gem “Ice and Awe” to the woozy modern prog of closer “Golden Age”. In a lesser band’s hands, such diversity could be an incoherent mess. For MONSTERWORKS, a band that have made shitloads of really great records without compromising an inch, it’s simply more delicious meat for the creative grinder.
Got too much time on your hands for reasons we’d rather not discuss? “Malignment” kicks open the door into MONSTERWORKS‘ mad world. You may never leave.