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The USAISAMONSTER - Sunset at the End of the Industrial Age Review

by Mark Hensch

This isn't the first time that the USAISAMONSTER has stepped into my reviews ring to spar. In late 2005, this wonderfully magical duo released a massive concept album entitled Wohaw. That disc ventured on a potent spirit journey through realms of neon-colored prog shamanism, wistful folk, and vibrant protest hard rock. The end result was one of my sleeper albums of last year and definitely an act to watch. I'd even go out on a limb and say this is the best band on LOAD Records I've had the great fortune to hear; Wizzardz may have their cheeky prog-pop sorcery and Lightning Bolt is simple amp divinity, but the USAISAMONSTER is arguably timeless.

What makes this band so vital is the state of the world at right this instant. As artists, the band has plenty of bad things to draw on. With evils like corruption, partisan politics, suppression of rights, war, globalization, and more blighting society, the primitive, fierce hope that the USAISAMONSTER draws from is moving indeed. The band seems to preach a message of nature, brotherhood, peace, and honesty. There is something very communal about the music itself; aimed at you like some sort of mystic mantra or incantation, this CD will truly speak to the inner recesses of your soul. And hell, even if it didn't, it would still be a keeper.

The soaring roar of "The Greatest Mystery" with its prog-rock washes ala Magma or Rush kicks things off, but the sobering "Sunset at the End of the Industrial Age" which follows it is what really sticks out. At an epic thirteen minutes, the song goes from humming ambiance to massive lightning bursts of hard rock, finishing off with clean, elegant American Hippie folk from the 1960's protest movement. It is also one of the most disheartening, depressing, and scary songs I've ever heard. You'd never guess from the musical tone of things how important this song is, but just take a gander at the lyrics and you'll find yourself questioning the world just a bit more.

From there, the disc flies with the urgency of fleeing quarry being chased by hunters. The first two songs after "Sunset" are grind-length, both being under a minute and featuring the band's unique brand of manic punk rock, soaring pop/folk, and crushing prog-rock. "Voice to be Heard" is my new favorite from the band, as a cascade of rainbow tones flows over you via the band's exquisite keyboard work. An insane prog opus ala Rush towards the end will definitely fry some neurons, as well as end things on a fist-pumping high. Elsewhere, folk gets progressed with "Okeepa Ceremony," and we get a mild respite in the buzzing keyboard wanking that is "Intermission." The furious "It's a Beautiful Thing (I Like My Oranges For Me)" is devastating; attacking with a nihilistic clarity amidst all the bright, shiny music, the song's raging vibe is still draped in cartoonish lunacy for one powerful coupling. As for best overall song on the entire disc, "How We are Livin' (It's not the Scripture, it's the Mass)" or "The Spirit of Revenge" surely take the cake. "Mass" appears sooner rather than later and rocks off socks with a tantric groove of tribal defiance. In fact, it definitely showcases the band injecting a sort of peyote-soaked stoner rock into their sound, and it is pretty weighty in the riff department at times. Perfectly balanced between stark melodies, moody interludes, and blazing explosions, this one is a real keeper.

"The Spirit of Revenge," meanwhile, closes the whole album. Just check out the primitive stomp and ferocious intent here and tell me this isn't something special! "Revenge" sort of billows out of the fire with sinister keyboard smoke as guitars shimmy and dance around it, sacrificing convention to dark pagan Gods. It makes for quite a spectacle, and one you surely will not forget anytime soon. The tribal folk rhythm will throw you off the trail, all before a bunch your caravan is assaulted with a mass attack of thundering, wall-of-sound guitars. Excellent!

Perhaps the most interesting thing is how focused the band still remains a whole year after their last release. The fact that so little has changed since last time in terms of world events, American policy, and humanity's interactions with nature and the world in general show just how serious some of the issues this compelling, obscure, and challenging band raises. The fact that most of their more popular contemporaries would never raise such grave concerns makes the USAISAMONSTER that much more vital. Do yourself a favor and try out this compelling act; you will be challenged, confused, and remolded into something better, just as good music should do to listeners. I can't speak for everyone in the world, but from here this is one stunning Sunset indeed. Highly recommended.

1. The Greatest Mystery
2. Sunset at the End of the Industrial Age
3. Too Many Moves
4. Wine Country Cracker Blues
5. How We Are Livin' (It's not the Scripture it's the Mass)
6. Voices to be Heard
7. Intermission
8. Okeepa Ceremony
9. It's a Beautiful Thing (I Like My Oranges Peeled for Me)
10. The Spirit of Revenge

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