One of the benefits of subscribing to Sirius/XM radio here in the US is the access it gives to a select handful of Canadian stations and fresh music from north of the border. It was around summer of 2016 when Hamilton rock band Monster Truck came to my attention. The song “For The People” was receiving regular airplay on Sirius/XM’s Verge, and I found it to be a catchy old-school rock tune that appealed to my love for that traditional rock sound. After recently enjoying “Don’t Tell Me How to Live” from their most recent “Sitting Heavy” CD, I went with my gut instinct to add this album to our collection during our most recent visit to the Hamilton area.
Having played the album several times over the last week, I was given a trip down memory lane to my later teen years when hard rock and hair metal was ‘the thing,’ just before fading a little into obscurity due to the rising emergence of the grunge and indie scenes that dominated the early nineties. Given that rock music played a huge part in my youth, the ‘new’ post-nineties rock scene was just something I never really gravitated to, and I settled for indie rock, folk, country and other non-mainstream outlets for new music. My recent blog post on “The Glorious Sons” opened the door for me to finally rediscover a new wave of rock acts that were embracing the sounds of rock music from back in the day. And in that very article, I mentioned Monster Truck as one such act, and for the purpose of providing that proverbial trip down memory lane, they certainly do not disappoint.
There is definitely a similarity to the sound of the retro-rock act The Sheepdogs, but while The Sheepdogs lean more towards the mainstream, Monster Truck are clearly much happier to define a sound that oozes with influences ranging from the seventies rock sounds of early Whitesnake and Deep Purple, to the early grunge sounds of Alice in Chains and Sound Garden. These influences are integrated seamlessly across the entire album, although the band certainly make it clear which influence proved stronger on specific tracks.
“For the People” and “Things Get Better” combine a modern beat and sound quality, yet for the casual rock fan, this is throwback music that could easily be celebrating its fortieth anniversary. “Why Are You Not Rocking?” opens the album with a statement; this is the hardest track on the album that invites you to put up or shut up (to hit ‘stop’ or to enjoy the ride). I don’t think I have heard a new band capture the authenticity of this particular genre in quite a while, and certainly applaud their amazing ability to cross the generational divide so easily.
Flipping the switch in an instant, “Things Get Better” and “Enjoy The Time” transport the listener forward to the grunge era. “To The Flame” in particular bears an uncanny resemblance to what could easily be a cover of something by Alice in Chains, yet it is completely original and further proof that while this is a band that are not re-hashing the past, they just have a natural ability to bring it back to life in their own unique way. I dare anybody to listen to “Enjoy The Time” and NOT hear elements of Pearl Jam delivered in a seventies era, stadium filled rock anthem.
If Monster Truck set out to put together an album that pays tribute to the roots of rock music spanning the previous forty years, then in my opinion, they have certainly accomplished that task. Alternatively, if they set out just to play music that is written, performed and produced from the heart, they are clearly loving what they do, and have certainly drawn this particular rock fan into their world. This album will appeal to anybody who likes their rock music a little on the edgier side, that is authentic, and that shows the utmost respect for the previous generations that paved the way in this particular genre.