The Almost

Monster EP

Written by: TL on 22/10/2009 22:46:06

While I have the deepest respect for the label that sent us the record that I am about to review, I feel inclined to ask: "What exactly is the point?". You see this review is one of the "Monster EP", an EP recorded by The Almost, the side-project of UnderOATH drummer/singer Aaron Gillespie, meant to precede the upcoming "Monster Monster" album. What puzzles me is, that out of five tracks on this record, only two will not be on the upcoming album, which I am pretty sure I will be reviewing in a month's time, and the two that are omitted are b-sides, and thus I find it fair to say that it's not quite worth it to write a review entirely for them.

Be that as it may, this is after all the first chance of hearing what Gillespie's band will sound like on the new album, so let's start out with track number one, "Lonely Wheel". I admit that I immediately like it more than the debut album, the hype of which I never quite got, despite having much admiration not only for Aaron's record label (Tooth And Nail, by the way) but also for the man himself (He sings like an angel, drums like a demon, go figure). It could just be me, but the production sounds warmer and more organic than ever, and Gillespie has revealed that his band has been more involved with the songwriting this time around, and maybe that's why the song initially just seems more potent?

Still though, I'm afraid the overall track still fuels the reservations I had about the debut album, just as the following "Hands" does. In The Almost, Gillespie's fine set of pipes take center stage in front of a quite straight forward, Americana-rocking expression, and I can't say if it's because his voice is constantly in focus, or that the songwriting just might not be good enough, but the fact remains that aside from an interesting and credible soundscape, the songs the project has spawned have never really left any sort of lasting impression on me.

Then I actually think things are closer to success on the first of the b-sides, "July", the pace and riffage of which also sounds closer to something that could've been in an UnderOATH song (nowhere near as heavy though). The chorus is still far from sweeping in my ears, but it does seem like a more rockin' tune. "Birmingham" on the other hand, has the format of the kind of predictable, piano-backed, pop-rock that I never thought I'd see The Almost touch with a ten-feet pole, and I fully understand why it has been omitted from the actual album.

Thankfully, "Monster" is quite significantly better, ending things with an acoustic western feel, one I wish The Almost would take more advantage of, because I think the reason I can't quite get on board with them, is that they simply aren't noisy or ambitious enough once they plug in. Listening to them, I get the feeling that Gillespie gets enough of that in UnderOATH, and just wants to do something plain and simple with The Almost, and that gives their songs sort of a middle-of-the-road feeling, where they'd like to play electric rock, but they don't really want to cut loose and kick ass, and that I think, is a damn shame.

Be that as it may though, those thoughts are still going to be mostly irrelevant when it comes for you to decide whether you want to buy "Monster EP" or not, because there's no way in hell you'll find me in a discussion arguing that The Almost don't have an interesting and enjoyable sound, so it is entirely up to you if you think it's worth your money to buy this for two b-sides, if you think you're going to buy the album as well.


Download: July, Lonely Wheel, Monster
For The Fans Of: UnderOATH, Foo Fighters, City & Colour

Release Date 06.10.2009
Tooth And Nail

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