There are all types of bands out there for all types of people. Hard rock, hardcore, metal, death metal, screamo; these are all variations on the same idea yet they are so completely unique in their own regard. What's so great about music is that listeners don't just become fans of a genre, but they become fans of a band. Real people and real experiences, hard work and dedication, passion and personality, these are just a few aspects of a band that extend far beyond the reaches any genre can have.
A decent band is one that executes an idea with little or no innovation, but is enjoyable to listen to. A good band innovates, but focuses on an idea that has been done before in an interesting way. A great band is one whose songs resonate with listeners because they are both unique and exciting in ways they haven't heard before.
The Almost are perhaps more than decent, good and great; they're awesome. Not only are they spectacular live, but their newest album, Monster Monster, defies pre-set genre boundaries and innovates with each song. Every listen is a new experience. What started out as a side-project of Underoath drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie, and little more than a distraction from his day job, has turned into one of the most interesting and original bands today. Gillespie is on record saying that Monster Monster is a "complete band effort" and the growth this gives shows.
This album has it all. Imagine if the entire Tooth and Nail roster met in one room and created a record. Take the intensity of Gillespie's own Underoath, the stripped down sensibility of Starflyer 59, the multi-instrumental talent of Surrogate, Corey Crowder's country feel, and add the raw rock of Showbread and the makings of Monster Monster only begin to surface. In the closing track alone, all of these styles can be heard as it clocks in at over six minutes long.
But diversity isn't the only reason this album stands out. Monster Monster is a flat-out mainstream worship record with a completely uncompromised message. The album revolves around the idea that sin in our lives makes us "monsters," but that through God we can be transformed. Both the first and last tracks (named "Monster Monster" and "Monster" respectively) directly address this idea, while the rest of the album gives praise to God and calls out to Him. "Hand Grenade," an acoustic country ballad, is a perfect example of this. Gillespie cries: "If you're an ocean then, I wanna jump right in. If you're a hand grenade then, I'll pull the pin. I'll wait right here all night, for you to let me in. And I'll run, run, run, run. Run right back to you I'll run."
Other highlights include current singles "Hands" and "Lonely Wheel," and pop gem "Souls on Ten." The boldness in which The Almost craves intimacy with God is refreshing and deserves to be respected. Through a partnership with Virgin Records, Monster Monster will be released at-large to the mainstream much like Southern Weather, the band's debut. The album has a potential to reach millions of people, and with it, its message of hope and love found in God.
Monster Monster is a huge step forward both musically and lyrically for the band. With an incredible message and a cover that is both fun and culturally relevant (try not to think about Where the Wild Things Are), The Almost has created one of the most important, and best, albums of the year.- Review date: 11/1/09, written by John "Flip" Choquette of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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