Fair Review, Amazing Solo Revival | Posted March 02, 2010
When Christian metalcore band Underoath recorded Define the Great Line in 2006, singer/drummer Aaron Gillespie had a lot of free time. So he made up a side project, called The Almost, and recorded an entire debut album single-handedly. This album, Southern Weather , showed that Gillespie could hold his own as a musician. However, his relatively unskilled guitar playing caused the album to be stylistically monotonous, the main emphasis of the album lying on Gillespie’s unique drum rhythms and trademark vocals.
Something big happened between then and now: The Almost became a band. Now backed by a group of established musicians, Aaron Gillespie returned to the studio with an onslaught on new possibilities. On this album, Monster Monster , Gillespie provides only the vocals and the drumming, both of which have improved. But the new players, Dusty Redmon, Jay Vilardi and Alex Aponte, add the true essence to this new album, bringing a high level of variety to the music’s sound. Whereas the debut was monotonous in scope and tone, the sophomore record contains large amounts of big harmonies, acoustic guitars, pop choruses, guitar solos and (most importantly) southern-country twang.
The album’s first two tracks, “Monster Monster” and “Lonely Wheel,” pull the listener in with the driving guitars of the debut. But everything gets better from here. Following are songs like the primarily acoustic “No I Don’t,” the single “Hands” with its gang vocal chorus propelled by a mass of layered guitars, and the uber-country “Hand Grenade” with its passionate lyrics Please let me find you / Please let me know just what you want / If you’re an ocean, I want to jump right in / If you’re a hand grenade, I’ll pull the pin / I’ll run right back to you. “Want To” has the best chorus of the bunch, holstered by powerful guitar riffs running beneath it. The album ends with the retrospective acoustic-and-steel guitar number “Monster” that turns into a lengthy and raging bluegrass guitar solo.
After such a linear debut, it is absolutely astonishing how The Almost have crafted an album of such a broad array of styles. Every addition to the band’s sound helps make them stronger, more unique and a whole lot more fun to listen to. Monster Monster has so much to offer its listeners, from thoughtful lyrics to strongly-produced sounds to rock-for-country-fans and country-for-rock-fans. I highly recommend you listen to this album.