Monolith, the stunning third album from Seattle’s Hobosexual, is a tough beast to wrap your head around. How is it that these two guys, Jeff Silva (who plays the everloving shit out of the drums) and Ben Harwood (who does everything else), are able to make a sound this lush and full? How, exactly, were they able to get their hands on my entire music collection from 1983 to 1997? And how in the hell did they figure out how to play it all at once? I’ve listened to this record over and over and over and over in search of an answer, and all I’ve got to show for it is two throbbing eardrums, a blown mind and a thoroughly kicked ass. Monolith is a jaw-dropping genre-smasher, like grinding up and snorting everything you’ve ever like about loud n’ hard heavy rock.
The festivities get under way with “Trans Am Sunday,” a gorgeous, melancholic ode to cheap thrills (“unprotected sex for days and illegal fireworks”) that recalls Failure or Torche, but with a coda vocal that sounds like the lead singer from Steelheart. That glam metal vocal sound goes up a notch or three on runaway rockers “Monsterbater” and “Dimensional Beard,” which come off like the Mark Lanegan Band being fronted by the love child of Rob Halford and Kix’s Steve Whiteman. I’m still unsure whether the party-gone-bad groover “Up the Down Walls” starts off sounding more like AC/DC or The Cars before it hits the warped Dead Milkmen-meets-the New York Dolls bridge; I can assure you it rocks like a mother, though. The title track is a Zeppelinized doom blues stomper, a glorious shriek-and-pummel bruiser. “VHS or Sharon Stone” is an 80’s pop culture stream of consciousness roll call that name checks Knight Rider, Debbie Gibson, the Sylvester Stallone epic Cobra and some of the greater works of Michael J Fox while sounding like a hard rock remix of the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper” with guest vocals by Beck. “Cincinnati Juggernaut” is a piano-driven, geographically-minded declaration of love with a weirdo freakout for a bridge, while “The Grey Mountain” hits like a hard rock Kasabian. “Night of 1000 Daggers” sounds closest to their two-man-band brethren the White Stripes, and “Sunset Adieu” closes the album with a yearning, power-pop anthem that starts off sounding like Jay Farrar or John Mellencamp singing over “White Summer.”
The record sounds impeccable; Harwood’s instrumentation and vocals are, to say the very least, impressive, and Silva’s hi-hat deserves a credit all of its own (you know how in doom/stoner trios, the bass tone has to occupy a whole lot of sonic room? The hi-hat does that here, to remarkable effect). Glam metal, hard rock, stoner metal, doom, old-school; by sounding like everything all at once, Monolith sounds like nothing else I’ve heard all year. Hobosexual has made one of the best albums of the year; get a copy, dub it onto a cassette, shove it your Camaro’s tape deck, and haul some ass, baby.