Overall Score: 8/10 Song Writing: 8/10 Musicianship: 8/10 Production: 8/10 Pros: A true return to form for a neo-classic rock n' roll band. Cons: Slight pacing issues hit around the half way mark.
In a time where weighty riffs and heavy subjects reign supreme in the rock realms, we all need a breather from time to time. Enter Canadian rock n’ roll band MONSTER TRUCK with their recently released Warriors.
The follow up to 2018’s True Rockers wastes little time as the title track comes riding in on iron horses with melodic riffs from Jeremy Widerman and Steve Kiely’s rousing beats. “Gather your courage, muster your fight” Jon Harvey calls with a wonderfully catchy cadence. His gruff blusey tones a refreshing listen. In a track which conjures images of the Three Musketeers donning band shirts instead of puffy sleeves, we battle not for supremacy but for our dreams. Band of brothers together once more recruit Dave Bakash (SUM 41) to bolster the ranks with an uplifting solo to see out the battle ahead.
With destination Fuzz Mountain on the horizon, we’re pulled into crisp guitars and the circumvention of expectations. The tone from Widerman’s guitar rings akin to SOUNDGARDEN as we’re guided through a fantastical realm. The vocal harmonies deliver that sweet golden buzz and prompt us to sing along with “I ain’t never gonna leave”. Golden Woman follows that sexy vibe as Brandon Bliss ushers in slivers of organs and a welcome faster pace. A little distraction in the form of a sexy lady and a good time never hurt anybody as Harvey’s lyrics come with a smile and a wink. Much like the flavour of the evening, Golden Woman will “melt your heart with a single glance” with melodies of style and riffs of substance. A masterclass in simple rock n’ rolls vibes we’d been pining for.
Being footloose and fancy-free is the key to a MONSTER TRUCK record as Live Free will tell you. A slightly heavier track than previous, Live Free still dwells in sumptuous simplicity. “I’m free as a butterfly” flutters atop a juicy chug. The long low squeal of the guitar into the solo sets our soul alight as we sing our song on the long lonesome highway. This self-acceptance bleeds into the low-slung Country Livin’. Harvey’s vocals blend in well with Jimmy Bowskill’s (THE SHEEPDOGS) slide guitar as we’re welcomed onto the porch and handed a glass of the good stuff. MONSTER TRUCK are at their most infectious as the tale is weaved about how city life is suffocating and “the air out here helps my heart to sing”.
It isn’t all sweet tea and Southern living as Get My Things And Go slips into the tried and tested subject of infidelity. Rather than a country woman taking a sledgehammer to her man’s car, MONSTER TRUCK simply picks up their six pack and walks right out the door. With help from Chris Robertson (BLACK STONE CHERRY), these bluesy riffs pack punch in their bounce. As the story unfolds, those instrumentals border on minimalist as Harvey talks about his lady “doing things I couldn’t get her to do to save my life”. The joy in minimal verses comes with the chorus’ rousing call to arms and glorious guitars.
It’s here we hit a slight slump. Love & Time is a slower tune still packed with bite. Its walking riff leaving licks of melody filling the slight gaps. While the harmonies are glorious to listen to, the chorus’ slower vibes don’t add anything to the experience. The promise of “I’ll be the ride of your life” may be tongue in cheek and one we’re tempted to take but that temptation goes no further. Elsewhere, I Got A Feelin’s faster tempo and slower riffs pique our curiosity. The aggression in “you’re in big trouble, pal” gives us a cheap thrill of getting into a bar fight as we throw ourselves into the anthemic chorus. Coining their “nothing but good love”, this leaves us wanting just a little more.
Wild Man seeks to deliver that with static in those guitars. “No one even knows what I’m all about” tempts us with the mystery of this man but as a touch-too-slow chorus comes into play we’re slightly put off. The flirtatious attitude is infectious and one we’re more than ready to get into one more. However the closing instrumental winds on a little too far. Bringing us to closing Still Got Fire, we’re perplexed at the short run time but not in a bad way. Wasting no time with the blusey tones we leave MONSTER TRUCK on a pensive note. They claim they’re “damn good enough to give you everything you need” – a cheque they can confidently cash in.
Warriors has MONSTER TRUCK returning to their roots after True Rockers’ more mainstream sound. Coming back to the low and slow vibe they’ve always celebrated has treated them well. There are some slight misfires as we’ve discussed. Overall though, this is a triumphant return to the stomping ground and fills us with a warm buzz like that first sip of a good whiskey.
Warriors is available now via BMG.
For more information on MONSTER TRUCK, like their official page on Facebook.