Take a great big cooking pot; put in some experimental Incubus, a pinch of epic theatricality from Muse, and spice it up with Red Hot Chili Peppers. Leave to simmer under the baking Australian sun and what do you get? Monks of Mellonwah have this stew coursing through their veins but still manage to be original.
This alt-rock/indie band from Sydney (Vikram Kaushik – vocals, Joe de la Hoyde – backing vocals/guitar, John de la Hoyde – bass and Josh Baissari – drums) has been together since October, 2009, and they are as tight as the proverbial drum. They’re going from strength to strength having gained lots of airplay and have also developed a fan base from their national and international tours. Plans for 2014 tours in America and Europe will promote their latest offering, which is their debut full-length album, Turn the People. A&R Worldwide signed the band, and they can certainly hold their own with the likes of stable mates, Muse and Coldplay.
Turn the People has actually been part released, teasing and drip- feeding fans with tantalising selections. Volume 1, released in June, 2013, is titled Ghost Stories. This was followed up in October, 2013 with the second volume, titled Afraid to Die. Volume 3, with the title, Pulse is scheduled for release in March, 2014, along with the album in its entirety. Having already heard (and reviewed) Volume 2 – Afraid to Die – I’m familiar with the four songs on that EP that appear on the new release, namely title track Afraid to Die, Downfall, Alive For a Minute and I Belong to You. My earlier review of the first three tracks reflected my great enthusiasm for the music but inability to connect to the lyrics. However, the powerful ballad, I Belong to You blows me away, always threatening to make me cry.
As for the remaining tracks on this new album, the opener, Ghost Stories – Intro is 57 seconds of a strange, otherworldly instrumental. This is followed by Ghost Stories, an epic drama with inventive, unnerving and menacing lyrics. You can feel the kick of Kiedis and Co. on the aggressive rock of Vanity and the gentler Pulse, which also has some gorgeous harmonising. Tear Your Hate Apart has exceptional vocals and dark lyrics.
A frenetic outpouring puts you within those “hallowed walls” in Escaping Alcatraz. Sailing Stones rocks along, with a surprising Arabian Nights-like instrumental break. The track, Turn the People has great imagery and ends with soaring guitars. Sky And The Dark Night – Part 2 – Control, as the title implies, is part two of an earlier release – more great imagery and guitar virtuosity.
Superb production, arrangements and musicianship are in evidence throughout. Lyrically, the simpler and more direct ones work better for me. When they rock, they rock hard; when they go the electronic route – it’s inventive, and vocalist, Vikram Kaushik has the emotional weight to take you with him to some sublime places. The cover art indicates this is going to be experimental and outside the norm, but what I like about this band is you never know what’s coming next.
Turn the People is an emotional rollercoaster – the kind of album where you’ll hear something new with each play. This band is really getting under my skin.