MASKS - The Monsters (Voodoo Rhythm)
THE HUNCH - The Monsters (Voodoo Rhythm)
This pigeon pairing of albums by Switzerland's finest garage trash band The Monsters isn't so much chalk and cheese as the musical equivalents of festering offal and last week's maggot-ridden steak. They're offensive, distorted representations of rockabilly and its variants, chopped up and put through an industrial shredder. Which is exactly why you need them.
Whoever took the danger pout of rock and roll forgot to tell The Monsters. Thank fuck for that. "Masks" is the "lost album" from 1989 and the product of The Monsters going into a studio for the first time. Long-gone label Record Junkie Records (an off-shoot of the shop where Beat-Man worked) saw fit to issue it and it's been long out-of-print.
Monsters leader and Voodoo Rhythm label owner Beat-Man thinks "Masks" is embarrassing - although not to the point that he stopped short of re-issuing it. He need not recoil from the amateurish nature of parts of this record. It's raw, lyrically perplexing and a lot of fun, recorded to two-inch tape in the most basic of studios with needles bordering on the red.
Everybody into this sort off music raves about The Mummies and fair enough, but for mine The Monsters are better. I mean, there's nothing on "Masks" likely to surprise, but the guitar sounds grates in all the the right places and the drummer in this line-up had a bit of swing. Beat-Man's vocal swings from angry yelp to tonsil-shredding croak. Plus, they massacre "Wild Thing" in a way The Troggs could only dream of.
"The Hunch" (named after one of Hasil Adkins' nom de plumes) dates from 1992, is half-studio and half-live and much better recorded. There's a bunch of covers sprinkled throughout and one of the cuts ("The Creature Form The Black Lagoon") made it onto Dionysus Records. It's proof garage punk doesn't have to sound like abysmal shit to stay true to its roots.
Hands up who wasn't a Cramps fan in the late '80s and early '90s? This version of "Drug Train" is pretty great. "Day Of The Triffids" and "Drag Is Back" have their rockabilly roots on show and pulse with energy.The live side picks up a couple of songs from the first record ("Teenage Werewold", Wild Thing") and prominent covers ("Be Bop A Lula" and "The Witch"), and is a little light on the bottom end but who's going to pick nits? My guess is they ran out of studio time or got bored. This stuff should never be too polished.
- The Barman
20 YEARS OF UNCONTROLLED LIVE SHOWS AND ULTRA RARE RECORDS: GARAGE PUNK VOL. 1 – The Monsters (Voodoo Rhythm)
Psssssst…..don’t tell anyone but The Monsters may just be the wildest, most uncompromising manic high priests of unhinged and trashy garage rock in the world, or at the least Switzerland. There are a lot of names you can throw up in opposition (Guitar Wolf the most prominent) but I simply won’t believe it until my own abused and bleeding ears tell me so.
While I can’t claim to be a Monsters completist – and let’s face it, much what they do is a variation of what they’ve done before (a la the Ramones) or a skewed channelling of well-known antecedents – I do know that they work on a number of levels. There’s the primitive rockabilly-derived fuzz riffs, the curious rhythmic propulsion of The Clonedum (finally, proof that two drummers are better than one) and the throat-tearing, let-me-out-of-the-loony-bin vocalising of Beat-Man. These are all obvious markers of Real Rock Action goodness. There’s also another less definable factor. In this instance, it's like it saunters up to you like a sociopath at a party. With rank breath, pinned eyes and a voice that’s thinner than a meth addict’s alibi, it slurs: “Can’t you hear that these guys are really fucked up?” Well, yes, actually…
The Monsters come across like the spirit of something born under a bad moon back in rock and roll’s primeval days in the ‘50s has been transported to Switzerland and implanted into their four heads. This is music to simultaneously move the feet and turn the stomach.
It’s a two-disc set that’s almost entirely culled from rehearsals, long-forgotten lo-fi recording sessions or live shows in shitholes in Switzerland, Germany and New York City (I know they’re shitholes because CBGB is one of them and any other places that would have The Monsters would have to be toilets too.) Considering most of the 46 tunes were recorded presumably for band members and friends’ amusement, it’s balanced and consistent sounding. It’s also raw and wild enough to have the neighbours convinced that the landlord or bank has finally had second thoughts and has sent in the wrecking crew.
If you don’t know The Monsters’ music the song titles alone should convey a sense of what they do. “Fuck My Brain Buddh Buddah”, “Out of My Live” (mangled malapropisms are part of the charm), “Psycho Trip” and “I Got the Bain Up My Ass” (not sure what’s going on there) are a representative selection. Lyrically speaking, James Joyce they ain’t.
It’s mostly original material but there’s a familiar moment with a live “Lonesome Town” where Beat-Man’s pained croak simply sits original and subsequent version (Ricky Nelson, The Cramps) on their arses. The soundtrack to a pauper’s funeral. Now say six Hail Marys and pass the cough syrup, please.
If there’s a seminal moment (gotta love dilettante turns of critical phrase in reviews of trashy garage punk) it’s when massively over-driven distorto fuzz guitar cuts in towards the end of “I Kiss You Dead” on disc one, a meat-and-potatoes song in any other band’s hands but the sonic equivalent of a grave desecration when The Monsters cut loose. It all but falls apart in a flurry of searing notes and Beat-Man’s screaming before it’s brought to a (slightly more dignified) close.
Six albums preceded this and word is we may get a visit Down Under at some stage, if not from all The Monsters then from Beat-Man. I just hope we’re worthy. - The Barman
HIDE & SEEK - The Monsters (Off the Hip)
Fuzz garage trash rock's best-kept secret is a multi-headed, twin-drummer-driven thing that eats the frail and aged and comes from Switzerland. The aptly-named Monsters have three albums ("Birds Eat Martians", "I See Dead People" and "Youth Against Nature") to their credit, and this compilation on Australia's busiest underground label compiles their best, adding a couple of exclusive bonus recordings.
The Monsters are unique. They have two drummers playing one kit ("The Clone Drum") and more fuzz than Saturday morning with a mindful of no memories other than the twin visions of the bottom of a bottle of Jim Beam Black Label and the inside of a toilet bowl. They also have, as frontman, the seriously unhinged Beat-Man, a tonsil-shredder extraordinaire and owner of Voodoo Rhythm, the record company with the globe's biggest and best roster of lo-fi trash rock.
Beat-Man is a guy who, in his past guise of The Reverend Beat-Man (leader of the Un Believers), delivered perfect gospel-country-punk songs like "Fuck You Jesus Fuck You Oh Lord". The good Rev was a couple of paces down the Darwinian evolutionary scale from one-man demolition company Lightning Beat-Man, a wrestling mask-clad musical saboteur whose stock-in-trade was staging tag-team spectaculars and clearing venues quicker than you could say: "Fuck me, what is this guy on?"
No idea if Beat-Man huffs helium for light relief, but he does a great job of strangling whatever's left of his shredded voice and spitting his bloody larynx out onto the floor.
The Monsters play the wildest, strangest mix of trash, rockabilly, acid punk and punk that you'll ever come across. If you don't believe it, stack their take on Gene Vincent's "Hold Me Hug Me" here (one of the unreleased bonuses) against the original, or listen to "Go away fuck your self" and get back to us. You might think you've heard it all before, but The Monsters will shake that notion out of your head and give you whiplash into the bargain. So sue them.
Many songs were laid to tape at London's legendary Toe Rag Studios, where almost everything sounds great (the lightweight and strangely soulless Mr David Viner being the exception). Lo-fi is one thing. Lo-fi in a good studio is another. A definite plus.
You get 21 "songs" (term used advisedly in some cases) for your buck and plenty of paint-peelers among them. I suppose I've heard about half of them, having "I See Dead People" and a Voodoo Rhythm compilation, and the unknown tunes don't disappoint.
Full credit to Off the Hip for having the temerity to give The Monsters an Australian release. Now if enough of you buy a copy, we might just see Beat-Man out here for live shows in late 2005 or early '06. – The Barman
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