Monks Of Doom – The Insect God (10″ edition)

4 out of 5

Label: C/Z Records

Produced by: David Immergluck, Mark Stichman (engineered by)

Starting from the same all-genres-together roots as Camper Van Beethoven, and sharing many players, Monks of Doom were the more sober, poetic cousins to CVB’s collegiate slackers. As the groups would evolve, Monks pushed further towards oddball rock, while Camper continued towards folk and rock.

The Insect God captures this in its near final form (of the group’s first iteration, anyway), with moody guitar pop that takes its lyrical cues directly from an Edward Gorey work on the title track, if that gives any indication of tone. But bandmembers David Immergluck, Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher, and Chris Pederson aren’t just setting creepy words to music: they absorb the story and make it their own, “told” through the aggressive cadence of the piece, and the emotive vocal delivery, highlighted by some deep production work that brings out the bass and drumming.

On the B-side, instrumental opener Chang very much maintains the sinister vibe, with closer If It Don’t Kill Me taking the lyrical content more personal, but maintaining some of the paranoia and looming terror inherent in the Gorey tale, the group acting in the more fully fleshed out indie pop style of Forgery.

Inbetween these B-side songs we get the only misstep, a fun, but totally out of place cover of Syd Barett’s Let’s Split. It’s well done and energized, but it’s punkified in-yer-faceness just doesn’t belong with the generally more shadowy nature of the other tracks.