Over the course of the last year, Cosmic Monster has grown into its name. First came Coaxial Transmission, boasting hard drums, synthesizer and a horror movie theme. Then came Knifehead/The Drift, inspired by the kaiju of Pacific Rim. (Great monsters, but why did they always fight at night, during storms or underwater?) And now, the self-titled Cosmic Monster, on which the act embraces its destiny. At this point fully in charge, Christopher Marti enlists the aid of multiple friendly contributors for an all-out sonic assault akin to an attack on Tokyo. The name “Destroy All Productions” hearkens back to the classic throwdown film “Destroy All Monsters”, while titles such as “Electric Battle Masterpiece” and “Monster/Monster” let us know what we’re in for. With a new Godzilla film set for release May 14, Cosmic Monster’s timing couldn’t be better.
The energy is high throughout, with gnarly guitars and elevated BPM. With influences ranging from psychedelic to rockabilly to surf, the album tips its hat to the rock music of the atomic era, much of which can be found on the definitive set, Atomic Platters. While listening, one can imagine drive-ins, popcorn, black-and-white monster movies and Sputnik passing above. It’s not easy to do this sort of music well, as it’s easy to sound dated. Cosmic Monster seems to recognize this difficult challenge, dispelling doubts by adding touches of metal and thrash. Loud, trashy, and aggressive, the album has a summer future, but will also go over well at raucous parties. It’s not subtle at all. But neither was Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.
The best tracks include segments that highlight a particular instrument, if only for a short passage: the lead guitar riff of “Strontium 90”, the bass breakdown of “Monster/Monster”. Most of the album goes full throttle, save for the finale. As Cosmic Monster continues to develop, our advice is to add more dynamic contrast and to plunder a few more samples (à la “Knifehead”) to create a completely immersive experience. But for now, this debut disc is a kaiju-sized step forward. (Richard Allen)