People generally prefer to set their sights forward when a new year finally kicks into gear, and that obviously includes the majority of us in the music writing game. That’s good news for anyone interested in keeping on top of the freshest of the freshies and albums that have yet to be released, but it also does a disservice to the pile of late arrivals from the previous year still deserving of attention. Albums such as—you guessed it—Monomania.
First and foremost, Ukraine’s Bestial Invasion is a bit of an anomaly: their name implies a level of brutality that suggests a kinship with Canadian war metal that absolutely does not exist, and the brand of exceptionally technical and traditionally melodic thrash they elect to pursue doesn’t showcase the (literal) crossover appeal that affords bands such as Power Trip and High Command glossy front covers in the modern age.
Blind Illusion – The Sane Asylum ’88
Realm – Endless War ’88
Coroner – No More Color ’89
Nasty Savage – Penetration Point ’89
Toxik – Think This ‘89
Watchtower – Control and Resistance ’89
Obliveon – From this Day Forward ’90
Forbidden – Twisted into Form ’90
Sadus – Swallowed in Black ‘90
Depressive Age – First Depression ’92
Add to that a clear and sincere appreciation for the excessively sophisticated form of death metal that grew directly alongside tech-thrash—Atheist, Cynic and Pestilence, to name a few—and tie in a vocalist who sounds a lot like Bruce Dickinson’s slightly deranged cousin and you’ve finally reached the ‘X’ on the Bestial Invasion map.
We Last Riters were already enthralled by the band’s previous record, 2017’s Contra Omnes (interestingly enough, also a late year release that didn’t get words until 2018), because it set the stage in a way that was perhaps a little more comprehensively aggressive compared to Monomania’s greater emphasis on meandering melody. If the former album could be looked at as the band’s ultimate homage to explicit thrash, full-length number three finds the crew integrating a very appropriate level of storytelling drama into the songwriting formula that’s analogous to King Diamond or modern era Hell (UK). Consequently, this particular ride features a little added depth in the adventure, which suits Bestial Invasion very well.
It would probably seem necessary to include a song sample that features terrifically appropriate guest solos from Kelly Shaefer (Atheist) and Doug Piercy (Blind Illusion), but as good as the song “Memories: The Architect of the Universe” is, the spotlight here is awarded to “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” because it delivers every little bit of what sells this band in a tidy 7-ish minutes. The song starts off with a beautifully melodic and airy little run before the tech sorcery erupts thirty seconds in. From that point forward, the path bends and jumps from smooth to jagged to, uh, slightly funky (!!!), and it also incorporates all measures of fret necromancy, a brooding narrative, moments of sweet respite, and a decidedly satisfying nod to Andy LaRocque (the lead just after the 4-minute mark) that eventually culminates in the album’s most satisfying bits of melody by the end. Put plainly, it’s technical thrash heaven.
The remainder of the record commits to a similar level of enchantment, and what’s perhaps the single greatest secret weapon up Monomania’s sleeve is the fact that it achieves all of its grandeur in an extremely tidy 37 minutes, including a closing cover of Atheist’s 1991 classic, “Retribution.” More considerate succinctness such as this in 2020, please.
Again, yes—a significant portion of metal fans are finished thinking about 2019, and the thought of adding yet another quality release to last year’s list isn’t exactly priority one as January 2020 (hopefully) begins to gain momentum. But keeping the door cracked is reasonable as long as what’s still trying to shoulder through is as high-quality as Monomania.
If highly technical and notably melodic thrash is in your wheelhouse and you’re looking for a satisfying punch to the chops before the new year fully commits to delivering left hooks of its own, look no further than this bestial but brilliant slice from Bestial Invasion.