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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Monks of Mellonwah

Afraid to Die

Review by Gary Hill

When I reviewed their previous EP in the last issue of Music Street Journal I remarked that I’d like to hear more from these guys. Well, that wish has come true. The concept overall (including the last EP) is interesting. This band is releasing their new full length album in three pieces, as three EPs. This is the second of those. I’d have to say it’s a bit of a mixed bag as an EP, at least in comparison to the previous one. I mean, it stands pretty close overall in terms of quality and reception. The music is less proggy than the previous disc was. I’d say that the opening track here is stronger than anything on the other one. The closer, though, sits at the bottom of both packs. All in all, this is quite good, though, and has me anxious to hear “part 3.”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Afraid To Die

The riff that opens this is very meaty. It’s got a soulful Montrose meets Led Zeppelin vibe to it. The horn section (might be synthesized) brings another angle to the sound. The vocal line is powerful and has a lot of passion. As this builds out later it gets almost a Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” vibe with a more modern edge to it. This track by itself is worth the price of admission. It’s also one of the coolest cuts I’ve heard all year.

Downfall
The riff that opens this has a classical, technical metal sound to it. The song is an ever shifting piece of music, though. At times this runs too far toward fairly generic modern pop music. Still, there are enough left turns and bits of cool music (that opening riff returns later as one of those) to keep it from falling fully into the vein of modern pop rock. It’s a good song, but pales in comparison to that opener. The guitar soloing on the piece is the one thing that really shines the brightest.
Alive for a Minute

In a riff that somehow makes me think of Judas Priest’s Point of Entry album, the bass opens this. Only bits of keyboards and some drums serve as accompaniment as the first vocals of the piece enter. This is one with a lot of soul and a lot of cool charm on it. The vocal arrangement is classy. The cut lives, for the most part in this mellower style. That said, there is a recurring powered up movement that’s quite cool. There’s also a jam later that lands pretty close to technical speed metal. That jam extends out to serve as the outro.

I Belong To You

This is a ballad. It’s intricate and quite pretty and the arrangement gets rather lush at times. The vocals, often layered, are the really shining star on this piece. While those vocals are great and make the song worth listening to, the structure and arrangement are too simplistic and trite to really stand out. In other words, this is a good song, but it’s the weakest piece on the set. I also question the wisdom of placing it at the end of the set. Switching this cut with the previous one in the song order would have made for a stronger EP.  This just isn’t the kind of piece you want to close with.

 
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