Fallen Temple, 2013
Genre: Black Metal
1. Come Fire, Come Flame
2. War without End
3. Bone-Bleaching Sun
4. The First Seed
5. Killer Within
6. Through Raging Spheres
7. I Am
8. Black Star
9. A Poison Divine
After hearing the last demo Monstraat they were definitely on my radar and when I saw this new album coming in 2013 I purchased it as soon as it was released. It's limited to 666 copies, of which I own 134, so if you're interested in getting one I recommend getting them sooner than later.
Based on the last demo I was expecting some pretty dark and vicious Black Metal, but I got something a little different. Now to be fair, I think Monstraat is still developing their sound a little bit. The first thing to hit the listener is "Come Fire, Come Flame," which is actually an extremely Thrashy song and launching the band onto more of a Black/Thrash format. "War without End" continues this old school Thrash feel, which you would hear infused with bands worshipping Hellhammer and such. Actually, I think Monstraat develop a bit more of a Punk feel to some of the songs, which is only enhanced by the very short song length.
Now, when we get to "Bone-Bleaching Sun" things take a drastic change and we got some highly refined and well written Black Metal. The songs from the previous demo are re-recorded here and I'm quite thankful for that since they sound great in the studio setting! The newly written Black Metal songs clearly fall inline with a serious Horna worship style and I get a distinct Finnish vibe from the atmosphere even though Monstraat are from Sweden. I truly loved this aspect of Monstraat's writing, because I feel like many bands try to emulate Horna, but they just can't lock down a similar atmosphere. Luckily Monstraat do a great job with this and I loved all the tracks written in this vein.
As you may be able to guess, I think Monstraat have some problems with their organization. Part of the thing that makes their full on Black Metal songs special is the heavy amount of atmosphere the band is able to evoke, but when they put the shorter songs in there it truly kills any immersive experience I could ever hope to have. I greatly prefer the Black Metal tracks, but the Black/Thrash stuff isn't bad, I just think they're better at writing Black Metal songs. Just listen to those riffs in "A Poison Divine", just absolutely perfect!
Maybe the band will disagree, but I think they have a tough decision to make. I think it's one they should really consider too, because I think they could have written a monstrous Black Metal album, but instead we get something that is essentially half & half. I think they have two distinct projects running at once and they should either split them apart or fuse them better. I'm a little hesitant on fusing things together, because the Punk/Thrash elements could kill the Black Metal atmosphere and feel forced in the composition. This is how I hear newer Taake albums, some amalgamation of Black Metal, with Rock riffs thrown in for crowd pleasing. This is a route I wouldn't like to Monstraat take and they have the potential to be far better songwriters.
So, despite some issues, I will say I truly loved the Black Metal songs on this album and I highly recommend people check them out. If you're a fan of the older Thrash/Black fusion, then you should definitely check out those songs as well, they do a good job with them. It just disrupts the flow of this album and you can't really "get into" the atmosphere evoked by either approach to the genre.
Genre: Black Metal
1. Prayer I
2. Prayer II
3. Prayer III
Wow! Just wow! What an immense improvement in this project from the first demo. Everything I discussed problems with has been completely fixed. This is a demo signifying the huge changes the band has undergone. It is no longer a solo project and now has two other members. Johnny seems to have given up all pretense of playing instruments and is now focusing completely on his vocal performance. This comes as a xeroxed booklet (single sided paper) on a dubbed cassette and limited to 50 hand-numbered copies. I happen to have copy #21.
This is exactly the type of Black Metal I want to hear being produced by new bands and this really puts Monstraat on my radar as an up and coming project to watch! Johnny has certainly found some prolific musicians to work with. On guitar we have someone who has played with the likes of IXXI and Lifelover, so I am not surprised at all in the giant jump in writing quality. I would now rank Monstraat as a 'must hear' project, as far as I'm concerned. The writing is cold and vicious coupled with a great vocal performance. The last demo was really holding Johnny back and I love hearing him in this new light where we can hear all that organic grit and torture you get with well recorded Black Metal vocals. "Prayer II" probably brings in one of the stronger riffs on the album, since it is so heavy and vicious sounding, and my only complaint is the song only cocks in at a minute and thirty seconds. I would really love to hear this song get fleshed out more and maybe in future recordings that will happen.
As far as demo material goes, this is pretty decently recorded. The guitars are clearly recorded with an amplifier and they are not fuzzy at all. Something I would expect from a professional guitarist. The drums are far more interesting this time around, since I feel J.M. is a higher class musician overall. No offense to Johnny intended, but his vocal abilities are clearly where his skillset is best used. I just love seeing a band form where every member can put their best work into the effort and I feel like that has really paid off with Monstraat.
I really look forward to where Monstraat is going in the future. A new full length is imminent as I write this and it will be arriving to me in the near future. I will try to make sure I review it as soon as it comes in! I am really excited to hear what this band can do in the studio after hearing such a huge improvement in their concept and sound. Definitely pick this demo up if you can get your hands on it!
Blutvergiessen Produktionen, 2009
Genre: Black Metal
1. The Life Curse
2. One with Them
3. Lamb Denied
4. Beyond Angel Eyes
6. ...of Black
7. Cold Wings Wrap My Soul
8. The Forgotten
Monstraat might be an up and coming Black Metal band, but back in 2009 it was just a one man project. This is their first demo published on cassette, which I'm sure was limited in some capacity, but it doesn't say anywhere. The booklet is pro-printed on glossy paper with a dubbed cassette and it comes with a sticker. It's quite beautifully done.
Monstraat is populated solely by Johnny Lindh at this point and the music is extremely primitive. It sounds like this was actually recorded on a four track, which is surprisingly for a demo released in 2009. It suffers from a lot of the problems amateur musicians encounter when recording their first demo. The guitars are extremely fuzzy, which is something I noticed happens when you directly plug a guitar in, instead of mic-ing it up to an amplifier. Sure, you might get an easier way to record, but a distortion pedal is no substitute for the full volume feel an amplifier will give you unless you have very sophisticated software that will mimic this. I do not get the impression Johnny is using any software, but instead plugging his guitar into a distortion pedal, then directly into the recorder, which generates extremely fuzzy guitar. I'm fairly certain he's using a real drum set and those sound relatively fine for a demo recording. They're far away in the mix as usual with these kinds of recordings. The vocals are extremely over powering and come off as overly distorted in a very bad way. Similar to what Blodulv sounds like and one of the reasons I did not like that project much. Recording the vocals this way makes it difficult to tell if Johnny is a talented vocalist or not. He very well could be a spectacular vocalist, but with this kind of a mix/recording it's tough to say.
So, needless to say the way the demo is recorded really worked against it. I try to get beyond production flaws as much as I can, but on this demo they stood out far too much. Looking at just the composition, it seems Monstraat try to herald back to the old early 90's days of Black Metal. I'm not sure they really succeeded in this. Some riffs have that passionate feel behind them, but others come across as an attempt to re-hash a bygone age that is just too hard to emulate this far removed from those early days.
In the end I think this demo really fails to capture my interest. We'll see where things go in the future, but if they just stay in the realms of what Blodulv is performing, I might be able to be interested unless the writing improves dramatically as well. That's what came to mind as I was listening through this... for what it's worth.