Monsterworks – Malignment Review

It seems like I just finished writing about Monsterworks a short time ago – or did I? I mean, their last album came out two and a half years ago – or did it? Was that the last we heard of these guys? It feels like it wasn’t. Normally they’re on an album a year release schedule, so this is a big gap for them. Makes me wonder if they were up to something else during that time. In fact, I’m rather bullish on that idea. I’m also very confused. Anyhow, there’s no denying that I was more than a little hard on these guys last time around. In fact, if I look back on my last four years here, Scale and Probability rated in my bottom twelve. That’s harsh. It’s also a pretty low bar to get over this time around, on Malignment.

Perhaps in an effort to relive past glory,1 Malignment continues the story set forth on the band’s Spacial Operations and Singularity albums from more than ten years ago. This is essentially a space opera where in this instalment our hero Nate is stranded after his spacecraft crashes. Many scifi things happen to Nate – too much to detail here, but it’s a story on par with, for example, Bull Elephant’s oddball tale as well. It’s not that important without a lyric sheet, as the vocals are still kooky as all get-out, ranging from subterranean growl to glorious screaming within one line of a verse, but I’m sure the lyrics tie all the songs and the album cover together in coherent fashion.

Musically, Malignment is a substantial improvement over Scale and Probability. Monsterworks still have a habit of throwing too much into the blender; “Impending Doom” is a prime example of this. It opens with an acoustic intro reminiscent of the outro from Ace Frehley’s “Fractured Mirror” before taking on a tone one would have expected – meaning thick, jagged doom. The aforementioned crazy vocal mix enters, but then quiets down after the intro, bringing in clean vocals, back into thick and harsh territory, followed by a subdued bridge and a solid guitar solo. It’s a lot of ideas to throw into a nine-minute opener, and a couple of subsequent tracks also have this half-baked, overly complicated feel to them. These guys actually write stronger material when they simplify things – imagine that! And they do so more often as the album progresses, giving Malignment a back-loaded feel.

“Eye of Darkness” and “Golden Age” are the final two songs, and the standouts. The former has a classic metal melodic intro and straightforward verses. It also seems to feature a laser pistol fight, which I thoroughly support. But the key to enjoyment is the simple arrangement. “Golden Age” sounds like all album closers should, like the denouement of a story, another sweet arrangement, and very strong clean vocals. The song also implies that the story will continue, of which I have no doubt. Elsewhere, “Ice and Awe” sounds awesome, with an epic guitar melody played atop chords and more impressive clean vocals. As with previous albums, the guitar playing and tone stands out, only here a more consistent mix and better overall production than the preceding album makes the songs far more listenable.

Monsterworks have accomplished an elephantine task here, delivering a much-improved album in all facets – songwriting, production, and mixing. Sure, there is still plenty of room for improvement, but Malignment does not linger far behind labelmates’ Bull Elephant’s albums now. In fact, one might be hard-pressed to tell the two apart at times, which isn’t an awful predicament. I approached this album with a sense of impending doom but left with a satisfied nod, knowing Monsterworks are headed in the right direction. Now my question is which of these bands will release their next album first?

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Eat Lead and Die Music
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 2nd, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Although I haven’t listened to their older material, so can’t say for sure if it was glorious or not.
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