Album: Hair of the Dog
Label: Rock of Angels Records (ROAR)
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Let’s get one thing straight: I am a total sucker for new bands who produce excellent traditional metal, the kind with twin lead guitars, soaring vocals and furious drumming. Recent years have seen a resurgence in the traditional sound as younger bands add their spin to the well-worn sub-genre. The difficulty faced by those bands is how to be fresh and relevant while maintaining that classic metal vibe. While there are several possible approaches, the one Monument has chosen is clearly lifted from the Iron Maiden template, specifically from the Bruce Dickinson glory years – from 1982’s Number of the Beast through 1984’s Powerslave. How does that work out for “Hair of the Dog”?
Arriving at a consensus on an answer to that question may be difficult because it likely depends on your point of view. It’s certainly no secret that the band knows that it sounds like Iron Maiden – hell, Maiden is the first band listed under ‘influences’ on their band bio, followed by Priest and Sabbath. If you are going to pay tribute to a time and a sound, why not start with the triumvirate, the kings of heavy metal? Monument also promises to deliver a vibe that brings “back a sound that has been missing from the UK for nearly 30 years… True British Heavy Metal!” Your point of view comes into play because you must buy into the band’s assertion that it can bring back classic British metal.
Now that we’ve come to that lovely place of agreement let’s consider “Hair of the Dog” against that backdrop. The opening title track,is not, as you could easily assume, a cover of the classic Nazareth song. It is a ripper of an opening track full of the earlier desired dual leads, soaring vocals and furious drumming. The riff will feel familiar to fans of classic Maiden and even the mid section break would not have been out-of-place on anything that band did pre-1984. But rather than feeling like mere mimicry the track more than adequately does exactly what the band says it should which is bring back that classic sound.
“Blood Red Sky” is one of few the departures from the Maiden-worship and is a classic 80’s metal song from start to finish with good melody and excellent guitar work. “Streets of Rage” returns to Maiden territory with vocalist Peter Ellis firmly in Dickenson territory bringing a very similar tone and timber to the melodies. If there is a misstep on the album it is “Imhotep (The High Priest)” a 6 plus minute opus along the lines of epic Maiden tracks right down to the dreamy mid-section that sounds very familiar.
Highlights include the aforementioned opening tracks, “Crowbar”, an energetic and melodically pleasing cut, “Olympus” for its obvious homage to Paul DiAnno era Maiden and the album’s closing track, “Lionheart” whose guitar work is amongst the best on the LP. There’s even a cheesy ballad, “Heart of Stone” that is excellent in its context.
Our previous question asked, how does “Hair of the Dog” serve the band’s stated mission: to return that great, classic, British metal sound. The issue that I’ve danced around this entire review is that some elitists would probably consider the album derivative. I think however that attitude is totally unfair to the band as they told you up front what they are all about. I would on the other hand like to see the songwriting become a little more original because I think the potential is there for Monument to be a great metal band.
Reverend Rock’s Rating: 7/10
Monument on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/monumentuk/?fref=ts
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