A band hitherto unknown to me, The Monks of Doom are an intermittently active American collective formed in 1986 as a harder edged spin-off from indie stalwarts Camper van Beethoven, and here they offload their first new material in 25 years with a darkly enticing doomy and psychedelic missive entitled The Brontë Pin that manages “spontaneous forays into the worlds of improvised music, adventurous instrumental work, dystopian paranoia and mind melting psychedelia”, as the PR blurb has it, and with some aplomb too.
Often led by Victor Krummenacher’s percussive bass work, from a guitar one can easily imagine is slung somewhere around knee level, and augmented by swirling guitars and synths, and expressive vocals with just enough American drawl to be alluring, the resulting brobdingnagian stew of initially amorphous Stoogian space rock takes us on a long trip that ends with Americana tinged big sky rock music not a million miles from Camper van Beethoven’s sound, but louder, obviously. Spark one up, baby, this is going to be a fun ride.
A surprise interlude is the acoustic psychedelia of Boar’s Head in the middle of all this rock-a-rollin’, a song that splinters off, spinning around and bleeping, before being glued back together by gravity’s pull.
How much actual improvisation is going down here is moot, as a feisty rocker like 23rd Century Hard Bop can only have been written, but when the end result is this good does it matter that, as is often the case, the PR guff may be a tad wayward? Nay, nay, and thrice nay, say I. More obvious composition follows on the swamp-rocking John The Gun, and on the concluding Americana of Osiris Rising, and by now The Brontë Pin has covered enough bases to go beyond pigeonholing. This is, simply, good and evil rock’n’roll with that effortless loucheness only an American band can achieve. If you dig Nashville’s All Them Witches you cannot fail to cut a rug to this beauty. And there’s a track on here called The Bastards Never Show Themselves – what’s not to like?
I have lately become weary of this reviewing lark, but I have been reminded by my learned colleagues that bringing music with a low to invisible profile, and even bands with a well-known lineage like The Monks of Doom to the attention of the wider great unwashed is but one reason we carry on with what might often seem a nugatory pastime, and this fine record is a case in point.
01. The Brontë Pin Pt. 1 (4:45)
02. The Bastards Never Show Themselves (5:34)
03. Duat! Duat! (5:39)
04. Up From The Cane (2:28)
05. Boar’s Head (5:10)
06. The Brontë Pin Pt. 2 (3:21)
07. 23rd Century Hard Bop (3:44)
08. John The Gun (5:15)
09. The Honorable Death Of The 100 Million (2:11)
10. The Sinking Of The Essex (3:39)
11. The Last Leviathan (Interpolating Rabbit’s Foot) (6:14)
12. Osiris Rising (4:10)
Total Time – 52:00
Victor Krummenacher – Lead & Backing Vocals, Bass, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Keyboards
Greg Lisher – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Backing Vocals
Chris Pedersen – Drums, Percussion, Objects
David Immerglück – Lead & Backing Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Pedal Steel, Mandolin, Keyboards, Bass, Harmonica
Record Label: Pitch-a-tent Records
Date of Release: 23rd March 2018
The Monks of Doom – Website