This one goes out to the one I love, the one I’ve left behind. Everyone get in line, then leave the hall. Today we’re taking a field trip, a pilgrimage back in time to grounds hallowed in the name of the religion I thought I’d lost: Rock ‘n fucking roll, the Great Old Riffy One which cannot die yet has for strange eons lain sleeping and dormant. I’m not here to bash on modern ‘rock’ bands, such talk would only hinder this review, and even if I waited the three days grace period I wouldn’t get so much as a nickel back for putting in my own two cents. No, we’re not gonna talk about that kind of rock. Instead, let’s go home again, to a world of bitchin’ guitars and VHS tapes. Everybody get on the bus, and be sure to say hello to our drivers, Hobosexual. They’ll be taking us where we wanna go by way of their third album, the future-fearing Monolith.
To fully appreciate where we’re going, we must understand a few things about Hobosexual. Firstly, they’re not metal, and that isn’t going to kill you. I might though, if you opt to miss out on this slab of goodness based on that detail alone, but let’s try to avoid all that. Secondly, that name. According to the band’s Facebook page, ‘Hobosexual was adopted by Ben and Jeff as a tongue in cheek dictatorial spin on affiliation as antiquated preference, the original and CORRECT GREEK root (a la not disgusting) meaning of the compound word “Hobo-Sexual” being: “One who cares little for their own personal appearance.”’ The Photometers will agree, and that’s just fine. Ben Harwood (guitars, vocals) and Jeff Silva (drums) have been rallying against today’s ADD plagued ego-stroke culture under the Hobosexual moniker since 2009, Monolith being the third installment in the band’s ongoing conceptual rendering of the great cold death of trve true art and individualism, and let me tell you: this thing fucking rocks.
Through a truly wondrous combination of lyrics and riffs, Monolith tells the story of an individual being driven crazy by various elements of modern culture. Continuing where 2013’s Hobosexual II left off, the album wakes up and goes for a drive with “Trans Am Sunday,” kicking things off right with anthemic guitars and musings on the Trans Am in question, which apparently is known for ‘Unprotected sex for days/ and illegal fireworks’. By contrast, the music itself is serious as hell, maintaining a loose but fervent, desperate atmosphere of longing for better times. My interest was piqued by this point, and I found my faith restoring itself along with every successive track as the Hobos lead me through this Jet-meets-Guns N Roses world of theirs. Whether it’s the balls-out “Up the Down Walls” or the laid back burn-cruiser “VHS or Sharon Stone”, Monolith is always identifiable as a kickass rock album, without an apology or identity crisis to be had. I defy anyone to explore “The Grey Mountain” and report back unsatisfied.
Perhaps my favorite part of this Delorean ride is that it’s taken solely with Ben and Jeff, or as their Facebook bills them: ‘2 beards, 4 amps, and more raw talent than Jesus.’ Aside from the occasional soundbite used to keep the story moving, every sound on this album is actually produced by one of two humans playing an instrument, rather than programmed and drowned in a lacquer of digital effects and polish. Whether it’s Ben’s vocal ventures into Axl Rose/Dr. Rockzo territory on “Cincinnati Juggernaut,” the utter badassery of the title track, or literally any given example of Jeff’s drumming throughout, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the sheer strength of these two dudes’ performance throughout the entire album. The rocking ways of old may not be everybody’s thing these days, but Hobosexual have created a pretty great-sounding and convincing argument for change.
I, for one, welcome our new, deviant homeless overlords. Only Jens Kidman and AMG Himself were born predisposed to enjoy metal, the rest of us got here by way of rock ‘n roll, and I admire this sonic slap to the face of Thomas Wolfe. Between the sound and the concept, Hobosexual have created something truly monolithic indeed, a genuine work of art on a level we’ve been wandering away from for far too long. Monolith is more than just a simple prop to occupy one’s time. If this grand Trans Am-O-Rama is what you call rock, then rock is not dead.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Kitchenable Records
Websites: hobosexualmusic.bandcamp.com | hobosexualband.com | facebook.com/hobomusic
Releases Worldwide: November 3rd, 2017