Space Monkey – The Blackest Hole

Space Money - The Blackest Hole
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Space Money - The Blackest Hole

The guys in Space Monkey will gladly tell you that they’re just a bunch of fun-loving, hard-rocking jackasses who like to have a good time and jam out – damn the results.  The guys in Space Monkey are full of shit.  They may love what they do and the music that they’re making, but something like “The Blackest Hole” isn’t something a group of drunks belch up after one too many bong hits – it’s crafted.

“Dark in Continents” sets the stage with a pounding, driving, gradually swelling build toward…what?  At its core, it’s a quasi-hardcore shredder that bleeds perfectly into “My Life, My Curse” with an unending stream of manic rage.  That’s when it starts becoming impossible to classify these guys, though, as in the midst of that brutal track comes a very non-hardcore breakdown that would sound completely out of place if it weren’t so completely perfect.  “Twisted Visions” is much the same, with that same mishmash of emotions (all dark, pissed off, and somehow beautiful).  Were those some old-school black metal influences in “Woeful Medina” and “Odessa”?

Just as you’re starting to grapple with the sound, “Infested Waters” comes along and really sets the stage, with a crazed mix of old-school black metal, hardcore, stoner rock, and thrash.  If you’re convinced that all of those sounds couldn’t work at the same time, check out “The Internal Flame”.  “Manic” stands alone, completely flipping the script with a sludgy stoner rock sound that the guys call back on “Smoke” – but “Manic” may be the standalone single.

There aren’t many bands anymore who still embrace the instrumental, but the guys in Space Monkey have never been shy about kicking your ass with straight up musicianship in their other bands, so they offer up “Gemini” here.  That said, it flows so seamlessly into “Odessa” and “The Internal Flame” that it doesn’t seem like an instrumental so much as it does the opening act to a sprawling epic that pulls the whole thing together and finishes in a way that really makes you wish it wasn’t finished.

Space Monkey – The Blackest Hole

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.5 stars
****1/2

The big things are what will make you listen: the blistering riffs, epic breakdowns, animal rage, and just straight up rocking that’s taking place.  But it’s the little things: the mixing, the arrangement of the tracks on the disc and the way they all feed into each other, and the way each transition moves from one segment of a track to the next that will stop you in your tracks and make you keep listening over and over again.  “The Blackest Hole” is many things to many people: it’s power, passion, and promise.  In short, it’s Cleveland metal.

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