Review: Monkey3 ‘Welcome To The Machine’

Having put an impressive twenty years into soaring instrumental weaves and mountains, Switzerland’s Monkey3 have returned with their seventh full-length, a none-too-subtle Pink Floyd referencing album titled Welcome To The Machine that was released last week, 23rd February, through Napalm Records.

Monkey3 'Welcome To The Machine' Artwork
Monkey3 ‘Welcome To The Machine’ Artwork

In keeping with their mountainous homeland, Monkey3 continue their brand of vocal-less rock combining elements of progressive rock, post-metal and electronic music in a vast sonic vista that stretches for miles. I hadn’t heard them in quite some time and was in the right mood to lie back and listen to an instrumental act.

The theme of the record is something of a familiar one: a conflict between man and machine. Specifically, films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix were used as inspiration (No Terminator though? Come on…someone has to cover that Brad Fidel theme).

The opening track Ignition follows a template that Monkey3 has perfected for a while. It uses crisp opening electronic beats and synths in a manner reminiscent of Boards of Canada before launching into a shimmering and dense barrage of bright guitar tones and propulsive drumming. The ten-minute number is quite lively, but the mix feels almost too bright at times.

combining elements of progressive rock, post-metal and electronic music in a vast sonic vista…

Collision is two tracks in one: A moody mid-tempo drum ‘n’ bass creep and then a hard-hitting riff-fest with some tasty lead shredding and very Faith No More-ish keyboards (who incidentally also have a song called Collision). Kali Yuga reminds me of Justin Broderick’s band Jesu, only with much more varied guitar textures, it hovers between a sense of impending dread and a possible rebirth in keeping with the song title.

Rackman is a catchy space tune that would feel right at home on the soundtrack for Mass Effect. It’s one of the shorter songs on the record but I feel it has a bit more to say as it meanders far less than the others. By contrast, Collapse feels a bit too familiar. Welcome To The Machine is quite dense and boisterous, but there isn’t quite as much variation as I would have liked for a concept album dealing with cyberpunk and space exploration themes.

Monkey3 are very good at what they do. They have a keen ear for melody and the electronic elements are skilfully blended into the arrangements. I did enjoy the album, but as I mentioned the overall concept doesn’t quite shine through, though as an instrumental heavy rock record, it shines very well.

Label: Napalm Records
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Scribed by: Rob Walsh