Turn The People

Monks Of Mellonwah

Gatcombe Records, 2014

http://www.monksofmellonwah.com

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/29/2014

Never content to follow a traditional path, Australian quartet Monks Of Mellonwah charts new alt-rock territory on their full-length debut, Turn The People. The album itself is actually a collection of three EPs that the band released over the course of 2013 (plus one brand new single): Volume 1: Ghost Stories, Volume 2: Afraid To Die, and Volume 3: Pulse. Meanwhile, the disc is a stylistic amalgamation as well, melding everything from ‘90s grunge to more straightforward classic rock to stripped-back folk, cut through with bursts of electronic and metal. “Alt-rock” is really too loose a term to encompass all that Monks Of Mellonwah is weaving together here, creating a seamless mixture by virtue of their anthemic soundscapes and the increasing confidence of frontman Vikram Kaushik.

Turn The People launches out with two choice cuts from Ghost Stories, its slow-burning title track and the catchy, stomping “Vanity.” The Ghost Stories my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 tracks, including “Sailing Stones,” which appears later in the disc, have a more ‘90s alt-grunge feel – I likened the sound to an Incubus/Bad Company lovechild in my original review (which though apt, is a terrible image). Guitarist Joe de la Hoyde is a phenomenal part of what makes this group sound so distinctive, whether he’s holding things down with chunky riffs or letting loose on a caterwauling solo.

Moving into a different space, lead single – and the album’s sole new cut – “Tear Your Hate Apart” is a standout. It reminds me of early era Muse, particularly with the haunting falsetto and the jittery, almost electronic feel of the guitars. The chorus is commanding as well: “Nice to know I’ve failed you again / I’m sinking, stumbling, I don’t know the way / Nice to know you’ll all be okay / My only question: what remains of me?”

Nearly every cut here is dynamic in its own distinctive way. Representing the Pulse EP, which veers into more prog/electronic territory, the title track has a lovely, rising energy. It pairs shimmering bursts of synths with light keys and an anchoring rhythm section, courtesy of John de la Hoyde on bass and John Baissari on drums.

Meanwhile, “Escaping Alcatraz” is an in-your-face punch of surprisingly melodic metal; it’s explosive and propulsive, the intersection of guitars and brass burning like quicksilver as Kaushik pleads, “Don’t let me wash away.” “Downfall,” from the Afraid To Die EP, has a similar vibe with its swirling, pyrotechnic textures, and the harmonies are again reminiscent of Muse.

But it’s “I Belong To You,” another Afraid To Die cut, that really mixes things up and stands unique from Monks Of Mellonwah’s already singular sound. An evocative, bluesy ballad, “I Belong To You” is the softest moment on the record. Kaushik’s vocals take on a tender lilt amid de la Hoyde’s gently cresting acoustic guitar. Monks finds power in stripping away the bombast, and this track show a great range to their abilities.

Turn The People finds Monks Of Mellonwah integrating what would seem like a hodgepodge of disparate sounds and doing it both elegantly and enjoyably. This is a solid set of songs that not only rocks hard but also has the distinctive voice of a band exploring and growing into their sound.

Rating: B+

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