Bandcamp has long been the platform of choice for those of us looking for new grooves that fall under the banners of doom, stoner, psych and sludge etc., and rightly so as it is a platform that treats both the bands that use it and the fans who buy from it with a degree of respect that many similar platforms do not, so it was nice to see this statement gracing the Bandcamp page of Spanish doomster collective Monsters Flesh's debut album "Black Magic" ... "This album has been inspired by a wide variety of underground doom metal artists discovered through the Bandcamp platform throughout the years 2019 to 2022 and, in a way, it has been conceived as a tribute to them all". A nice touch we think you will agree but one that wouldn't mean as much if the music paying that tribute was not of a similar quality to the bands and albums it was paying homage to, thankfully it is!
Monsters Flesh is basically a one-man operation, the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Lord Charlie with the bass and drums being handled by a fluctuating cast of members, now this could have resulted in some disjointed performances, but it is testament to Lord Charlie's vision and tight hold on the reins of Monsters Flesh that these grooves are at all times focused and totally on point. This focus is in part thanks to Lord C tying these songs together with a conceptual theme. a story that tells of a group of mythical creatures and beings joining forces against a dastardly character, going by the name of The Skeleton King, who by opening portals to other worlds has gathered together a bestial army to do his bidding. Granted it is probably not the most original of concepts, but it does pull everything together and gives the album a focus it might of lacked had it been just a collection of random tunes. The way Monsters Flesh construct the concept of "Black Magic" is similar in many ways to how US duo Lorekeeper approach their themed albums, telling a story from start to finish as you might read it from a book only in the case of Monsters Flesh their lyrics tend to be slightly more cryptic and a little more open to interpretation.
Musically the album sits at the stoner end of the doom spectrum with the occasional forays into traditional doom territories with thick toned guitar and bass riffs darkly reverberating and crunching over solid and steady powerful rhythms while vocally it pushes its toes into goth-rock waters with Lord Charlie crooning a laid back and unrushed baritone that recalls, in places, Bauhaus' Pete Murphy. Lord C's vocal delivery adding an extra dimension of doomic dankness to what is already a fairly dank and doomic fantasy themed album of grooviness.
"Black Magic" works both as a tribute to the doom bands Lord Charlie has slavishly been listening to on the Bandcamp platform and as a stand alone fantasy themed doom release in its own right. It is an album that may not be highly original in its concept or in its music dynamics but it is nonetheless well constructed, superbly executed and highly enjoyable.
Check it out .....
© 2022 Frazer Jones