You don’t get many better symbols of brash American style than a Monster Truck: big, noisy and kind of dumb. In many respects this band do live up (or down) to their name. Playing a ballsy, blues based, hard rock that fans of Black Stone Cherry will approve of, they come across like wannabe ‘White Trash Millionaires’, but it’s not the whole story. For starters this handsome and hirsute four-piece hail from Hamilton, Ontario!
Opener ‘Old Train’ also wrong foots you after its snazzy intro with a sound like Creedence Clearwater Revival jamming around the melody of ‘Strange Kind of Woman’ by Deep Purple. The Southern rock feel continues on ‘Power of the People’ with a hint of southern soul testifying. The production, by Eric Ratz, is the right mix of tasteful and gritty with good use of swirling keyboards throughout, especially on ‘The Lion’.
‘Sweet Mountain River’ is a strutting blues with huge chorus, and finds the band really hitting their stride. It’s no surprise it’s the first single, with lyrics about a country boy yearning to get out of the city, it’s bound to play well in a lot of the US. ‘Physics’ and ‘Boogie’ are more blustery affairs. The superior ‘Physics’ would make a good live opener but perhaps doesn’t play to their strengths as they sound better when looser and laid back. A good solo by Jeremy Widerman saves it from being a bit unappetising.
‘For the Sun’ features a sterling Gary Moore-style blues intro into a lovely slow meditation, not unlike Rival Sons or even Led Zeppelin. There’s more fabulous guitar work throughout by Widerman. He’s sparring with the heavyweights here and pulls of some killer punches. However, by ‘Undercover Love’ I’m feeling that either I have limited tolerance to this kind of trad rock or Monster Truck‘s songs are beginning to lose their appeal and the quality’s maybe dropping off. But then ‘The Giant’ appears above the rooftops and they sound like a new band – modern, imaginative and drenched in huge harmonies, chimes and space age guitar tones. It’s a real sonic jolt and proves the versatility of the band. Time to re-engage with the album? You bet!!
We go back to the blues rock well on the ZZ Top riff of ‘Call It A Spade’, which pulls all the familiar moves and gets by on attitude and cheek bones, but is really pretty average fare. But hold on! Monster Truck haul the album out of the doldrums again for the finale with ‘My Love Is True’. Calling to mind Free with it’s confident, but tender mood, it has the required big ending with female backing vocals, and the usual bells and whistles. It’s
lovely if entirely predictable.
The trick, for me with this kind of music, which most rock fans over the age of 30 are sooo familiar with is to make the songs so good, and the playing so fine, that any stylistic staleness becomes irrelevant. “Furiosity”, for the most part is both good and fine. It seems many agree with me as they’re soon going out on tour supporting both Slash and Alice In Chains in their native Canada. I hope you lucky Canucks enjoy them.
Like their t-shirts say, “Don’t Fuck With The Truck”.