REVIEW: Monster Truck – Sittin’ Heavy (2016 double vinyl)

“I don’t care ’bout the weather, the band’s here to play.” – Jon Harvey

img_20161113_081455 MONSTER TRUCK – Sittin’ Heavy (2016 Dine Alone 2 LP edition)

Why are you not rocking?  This is the question that Monster Truck ask to open their 2016 release Sittin’ Heavy, easily the best record the quartet have released to date.  “Rock and roll might save your life, it might save your life tonight.”  Perhaps this is the Truck’s modus operandi, because judging by Sittin’ Heavy they are interested in delivering the rock and doing it right.

From the short blitz of an opener, Truck go right into the first single “Don’t Tell Me How to Live”.  The track has been a radio staple in Canada for most of 2016, and it’s easy to see why.  The slow riffy groove is easily digestible by rock fans craving that sound, backed by a searing chorus about eagles and lions.  Some have compared this band to another Nickelback, but on Sittin’ Heavy they have moved far beyond those measures.  Nickelback has never delivered anything this classic sounding.  Track three, “She’s a Witch” has a modern swampy vibe that Chad Kroeger couldn’t hope to taint.  Three songs in, Monster Truck delivered three completely different tunes, though all with the rock solid Truck groove.  One ingredient that separates the Truck from the crowd is the soulful organ provided by keyboardist Brandon Bliss.  “She’s a Witch” is one track with a bizarrely heavy soul-metal vibe.  That vibe culminates with “For the People”, an uplifting track that closes side one of the vinyl.  The soul-rock vibe is obvious and augmented by Ian Thornley of Big Wreck who lays down some of his trademark wicked slide guitar.  The Wreck-ifying of the track unites the two bands in a cool, celebratory way.

Flip the vinyl, and take a moment.  “Black Forest” is a organ based track, slow and mournful, and very different from any of the four on side one.  When a band like Monster Truck turn down the volume, they risk revealing that there is little substance beneath the howling distortion.  This is certainly not the case here.  “Black Forest” has a more subtle touch, and the band allow it to breath.  As a result it’s one of the most stand-out tracks.

“Another Man’s Shoes” walks us back into familiar territory.   The Truck don’t make things complicated, and guitarist Jeremy Widerman’s Frehley-like solos are just what the doctor ordered for these musical bruisings.  They take a left turn down Abbey Road next by adding some Beatles-like piano vibes to “Things Get Better”, an outstanding track.  “I got a feelin’ thing’ll get worse before they get better,” sings Jon Harvey but he couldn’t be more wrong.  Sittin’ Heavy keeps getting better the more you play it, and “Things Get Better” is a high water mark.  Side two blasts its way to a finish on “The Enforcer”, which races home with plenty of the Truck’s trademark “woah-woah-woah” gang vocals.

The third and final side (we’ll talk about that shortly) begins darkly with a Sabbath-like “To the Flame”.  Widerman and Harvey seemed to study at the feet of Iommi and Osbourne when composing this menacing crawl.  “Midnight” takes the tempo back up to cruising speed.  Going in at low altitude, the Truck bomb your senses with a vinyl-only bonus track.  Considering the price you pay for a record vs. a CD, it is nice to get something like a bonus track for your dollars.  In the 80s, it was common to put a bonus track on the CD, since it was the most expensive format at that time.  Now the situation is reversed.

A choppy riff introduces “New Soul”, a purely enjoyable return to the church of soul-rock.  It’s a head-bangin’ good time.  Clap your hands for a good time (unless you’re listening to this while driving, in which case, keep ’em steady on the wheel).  Then the final track is appropriately the ballad “Enjoy the Time” which sounds like a natural way to end a soulful rock album like Sittin’ Heavy.  Its Supertramp-like keyboard tones lend it a unique sound over the rest of the album.  It also sums up the vibe of the whole album:  “Enjoy the time we have, before they’re gone away.”

But what about the fourth side?  What’s on that?  Check out the etched vinyl, baby!

img_20161113_080846

If you are looking for a new rock album that sounds classic, then you have found one.  Those who like a rock record to be a journey of highs and lows and with a satisfying conclusion, then Sittin’ Heavy is the one.  With little doubt, this one is going to be on a few best of 2016 lists at the end of the year.

5/5 stars

 

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34 comments

  1. The song for the video you posted is awesome. I love that sound! This will be added to my library! Thanks. What I find interesting is the etched art on side 4. I just finished writing a post for next week that talks about that. One album I received for Christmas had an etching on side 4. I had never seen that before and now you mention it. I see a trend starting or has this been going on for awhile?

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Very close! It’s a giant excavator for the Alberta oilsands. You may have heard of that — a lot of oil in the sand but it take a lot of water and energy to get it out, so it’s controversial. I always found the sheer size of those machines to be fascinating, and it’s cool to see Monster Truck playing on one, gives you a real sense of scale. I love near the end when the snow starts blowing. Welcome to Canada!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. They’re a pretty new band, I started hearing them on the radio about 3 years ago. They had a tour in Europe opening for Nickelback so they’ve been getting a lot more exposure. Definitely worth checking out ANYTHING of theirs.

          They also recently covered Saturday Night by the Bay City Rollers, as the new theme song for Hockey Night in Canada, but you can’t buy it anywhere yet.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I have nothing to add except of the fact that this will be dangling around in both of our Top 5’s this year…..By the way when is that coming?
    Great review and a real powerful band live as what you hear on record is what you hear live! Harmonies are spot on….
    Good to see these guys getting on some bigger tours like Nickleback/Billy Talent and Alterbridge…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deke! And speaking of Billy Talent I even liked their song on the Rush set!

      This will definitely be on a few lists. I’m finishing up mine today. I’ve received two others from contributors and I’m waiting on two more. So I would say you will start seeing lists show up as the next few posts! Stay tuned. There is one surprise list this year, you will definitely not expect to see this person!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Well sir I would say that is up to you! The comments are the tradition but I’m hoping to get caught up today!

          I just need one more thing for my list that has proven difficult to find.

          Like

        2. I noticed it as Tbone bought the cd at the M.T show and after if went to Timmy’s to dissect the show and let out ears recover and Tbone had his cd on him so i scoured the credits.. Hess is on it….

          Like

  3. Great record. Easy top 10 choice.

    As for touring, they are often the headliner up here, but are openers elsewhere in the world. I say give them a few more years and maybe another great album like this and they may be headliners around the world.

    Nice to see bonus songs on vinyl for a change. We pay extra for it so give us more music. One day all bands will figure that out.

    I want that HNIC theme song. If you find out about it being released let us know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I commented to the band that they should release it on vinyl — I hope they listen!

      Agreed on bonus songs. If bonus songs were included more, I would buy vinyl every time. Good on the Truck for catering to the needs of the collector!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent review, Mike. This lot are on my radar thanks to you guys, but bar a few tracks I’ve watched the videos for on YouTube, I haven’t really checked them out. I do like the riffage going on and I like to think that the dude doesn’t use a mic when they play live!

    Like

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