Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Space Monkey-The Blackest Hole


Originally formed way back in 2012 by ex-King guitarist Marco Quiroz (guitars/vocals) and drummer Luke Brletich (and initially starting out life as a side-project of the pair before making the slow transition over to full-fledged band), Space Monkey is a five-piece metal band that hails from Ohio and also features within it's ranks guitarist Tom "Tommy" Packard of At No End fame. Of course the hardcore-tinged At No End gave us the 2011 album, "Holocaust" and 2013's "From The Rust" so when Tom Packard himself sent me a request to review this (modern metal/death thrash by way of stoner rock) album how could I refuse? The answer is I couldn't, but still had I known the exact nature of "The Blackest Hole" I might have been better prepared for what transpired between point A (Tommy's email request) and point B (sitting down to do a write up on Space Monkey's high-recommend debut album here). Please note that everything that follows is the gospel truth and nothing has been added for theatrical purposes. Naturally we start our journey at the beginning and that would be when I first opened up the package that guitarist Tom Packard sent me. It arrived with a handful of similar-sized padded envelopes* and having opened all of my mail in hast on the dining room table the CD almost ended in my recycling pile! At the last moment I realized my mistake and after grabbing the album I headed out to my car for what would prove to be a afternoon full of errands. Having (unsuccessfully) attempted to play the CD in my car I placed the disc back in it's slip case and put it on the passenger seat. After arriving back home I couldn't find the disc and I had to tear apart my car to locate it (it had somehow managed to slip between the side seat and my car's middle console). Taking the CD inside I almost immediately lost it in my room. This proved to be my first warning that "The Blackest Hole" was playing hard to get! With a new day dawning I went on the hunt for the CD and by this point I couldn't remember if I brought it in from my car or left it in my room (I would like to blame the two or three Angry Orchards I had the night before, but I'm a goofball at the best of times so...). After tearing both apart the CD mysterious appeared right on top of one of my Blu-Ray/DVD towers. The weird thing is I remember scanning the tops of them with my eyes and not seeing anything. By this point I really began to wonder if there was something "otherworldly" about Space Monkey's first full-length album. Whatever the case might be I went about putting the CD into on one of my two stereos. Nothing happened. I couldn't get the disc to play. OK, I tried the other one and the same thing happened. "Alright, this is really odd now" I thought to myself so I ended up having to borrow one from my parents. With their CD boombox in hand the disc finally played! I figured everything was right with the world. Naturally I was wrong as I couldn't get the volume button to turn down any! So, not only did this disc play hard to get, but once I actually manged to capture it and get it to "communicate" with me this album insisted upon being played LOUD and PROUD! Not that there is anything wrong with that!! Naturally you might be thinking that there was something wrong with the disc, but the really strange thing is after playing it on someone else boombox it played perfectly fine on all of my devices! It all sounds so f**ked up, but I couldn't make up a story like this if I tried! So, with all of that said what are we to make of the Cleveland-based Space Monkey? Well, first things first. Lead singer Nicholas Jarrell (ex-Order 66 vocalist) and bass guitarist/vocalist Terry Johnson round things out for the heavier than the almighty heavens Space Monkey and on "The Blackest Hole" not only does he guest as a lead vocalist on the excellent thrash metal attack track that is "Twisted Visions", but Noah Buchanan recorded and co-produced the disc as well! It's all rather fitting that a soon to be legendary Cleveland band hooked up with a legendary Cleveland musician/producer like Noah Buchanan. His fingerprints can be seen all over this album which sees the guys in Space Monkey drawing from influences that range from Mastodon (opener "Dark In Continents") to Queens of the Stone Age (the sweet as f**k "Manic" that mixes desert rock with lethal does of modern metal!). It's not until track number four (the soul-crushing "Infested Water") that we hear some of At No End's hardcore influence creep into the mix, but really once you hit play and "Dark In Continents" kicks in you're going to hear all sorts of crazy stuff** so it's best to just keep your ears wide open for this pulverizing disc! To wrap things up let me just say this. For a first album, "The Blackest Hole" is just about flawless. Even if it took me awhile to get to the heart of the matter (why this disc had to tease me/torment me unmercifully I'll never know!) this new album from Space Monkey offers more proof that when it comes to extreme metal Ohio has some of the best bands out there bar none! All that's left for me to do now is check this act out live and in bloody red color and everything will be just golden delicious!   

*In addition to a few things that I had ordered off of eBay that finally showed up(!) that day alone I received four separate promo CDs! If only I was half as popular with the ladies as I was with record labels and artists...

**Besides modern metal, death thrash, hardcore and stoner rock there were tiny flashes of goth metal, alternative metal and even black metal. No one can say "The Blackest Hole" isn't interesting!

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