Kicking off with earlier single, I Know, is an excellent way of setting the scene for this latest collection of S2I music. It was hard not to fall for its street rock charms, its outsider vibe, its honest, take-it-or-leave-it attitude, its swagger and a hint of danger, for these are all qualities and traits that unify the music found on Monster. If this music were a person, it would be one that you want on your side in a fight, the sort that makes for the perfect friend but which you wouldn’t want to cross.
So, with I Know having helped us dip our toe into the shark-infested sonic waters, Let Them See is where you have to take the plunge into the deep, dark, and frankly, quite delicious depths beyond. And you’ll be glad you did. As you bob back to the surface, you find yourself engulfed in a song that is both slow and bluesy but feels like you have just been hit by a ton of bricks. Its slow groove seems to add to its power, a snarling beast that appears to be slowly stalking the listener rather than running at them full tilt. It’s going to getcha…and you won’t even see it coming.
And if it is speed that you want, the title track delivers, and it is indeed a bit of a monster. Old-school, classic rock riffs drive it ruthlessly and relentlessly onwards as it explodes into a cascade of razor wire guitars and shamanic drumming, pulsing bass lines and vocals that seem to be howling at the moon! That’s rock and roll as it should be.
Rowing then comes as a stark contrast, a finger-picked, bluesy ballad that is shot through with heavier musical motifs – busy and skittering drums, cavernous cascades of guitars, almost lead lines from the bass, and great use of dynamic, on/off, loud/quiet contrasts used to significant effect. And against this more considered backdrop, singer Aaron Hasler still sounds like he has the weight and worries of the world on his shoulders.
Friday and Heavy Stone turn up the heat to play us out, increasing in speed, weight, urgency, and intensity as they take the album over the line.
Interestingly, most of the band grew up in the Southern Jura Mountains, the Alpine highlands of Switzerland. It is difficult not to find a direct correlation between their raw and rugged music and the equally brutal landscape beyond their rehearsal room—hard music for a harsh land.
Falling somewhere between the muscular excesses of powerfully executed rock and the more melodic end of full-on metal, S2I has a vast and vicious sound. They lead more on classic rock styles than the pose and preening of alt-rock and play things relatively straight. This is nothing less than fist-in-the-air, foot-on-the-monitor, heads down, mindless rock and roll boogie…turned up to eleven.
And why not? Rock music of this type has been a feature of the musical landscape since, arguably, the early seventies, and if it ain’t broke, why fix it? You can keep your alternative scenes and fusion rock bands, your quest for the next sound and need to be the next big thing. What S2I does is revel in the timelessness of rock music. You could make an excellent argument for rock music having found its perfect form decades ago. It did, and it sounds like Shortcut2Infinity.