The cover of MonstrO's debut self-titled album couldn't match its contents more perfectly. This is pure throwback rock, played by members of Bloodsimple, Danzig, Comes With the Fall, and Torche. Much like Torche, MonstrO's greatest strength lies in their ability to place floor-rumbling heaviness alongside psychedelic, breezy melodies. “Concertina” is a great example, opening with clean guitars that would feel at home on a Zeppelin album before closing with deep, bruising riffs. “Helios” merges a spacey intro with a gutsy second-half punch. With William DuVall's superb production, highlighted by a distorted guitar tone with a nearly tactile thickness and grittiness, MonstrO shines during these moments, toeing the line between nasty fuzz rock and infectious alternative rock.
MonstrO isn't flawless. Some slower sections—particularly “Elizabeth” and parts of the huge closer “April”—come off flat in comparison to the vibrant energy surrounding them. A couple tracks seem to go on for longer than they should. But these issues are minor, and only a fool expects perfection from a debut album. What MonstrO have shown here is that they can play smart, catchy music with brawn to spare. CLARKE READ