Chilled Monkey Brains!

Taking their namesake from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” Chilled Monkey Brains released a new album towards the end of 2014. This new LP entitled “APEocalypse” is their third official release, following an LP in 2012(“We’re All in This Together”) and a self-titled EP in 2010. This 6-piece band hails from Tallahassee, Florida and has created a melting pot of music styles in their brand of ska. Let’s check out APEocalypse…

1. “Enter the Wasteland”-Thunder rolls, bells chime and a stripped-down acoustic guitar set the stage in this opening track. Quickly, the mood changes with heavier guitars and blaring horns. This song seems to have it all, backing vocals, gang vocals, horn solos and killer shredding guitars. What a great way to start this out! Grade: B+

2. “Thrashterpiece Theatre”-Feeling a little disjointed at times, this is still a pretty solid tune. Once again, the horns are given a time to shine. The use of the organ is no stranger to tradition ska/rocksteady music; however I have not heard much of it used with those in the ska-punk niche. It really adds something extra. I also really enjoyed the synthesizer part near the end of the song, making listeners tap into their inner Devo. Grade: B

3. “Note to Self”-From the screaming that starts out the song to the punchier vocals that carry the remainder of the tune, I just don’t care for the singing in this song. This is a shame because the rest of the song it top notch; from the backing vocals beginning the 1:50 mark, to the slick guitar parts and the horn arrangement, this song has a lot going for it. Grade: C

4. “Soldiers”-Sacrificing none of its hard-hitting nature, this one has more of a “radio- friendly” quality to it. Reminding me a little of Bad Religion (but with more punch) I really enjoyed the vocals in this one. Nice job. Grade: B+

5. “The Tale of Ramirez Depietro”- This is a colassal song, with lots of things happening all at once. Chilled Monkey Brains sticks to familiar territory with its blaring guitars and horns that will slap you across the face. This being stated, they also add that “pirate” feel near the halfway point with combination of instrumentation and vocal harmonies. Just when you thought they couldn’t pull any more punches, a funk feel, followed by crazy space-synth are added for good measure. This song is epic! Grade: A

6. “Illusions”-Pairing off between hardcore punk guitars and a traditional third wave ska guitar sound, “Illusions” will turn the moshing crowd into a skanking one for sure. This song also sets you up for the next on the album. Grade: B+

7. “Anaconda’s Delight”- What starts out as a slower number with bending guitar riffs, creeps into the gray area between speed metal and punk. A great song. Grade: A-

8. “Go Home and Be a Family Man”- I have not played video games since the SNES days, so this tune takes me back to one of my favorite games. Normally, instrumentals should be left to those in the traditional ska group, but the nostalgia factor certainly trumps this view. Grade: A-

9. “Snake”-Channeling some death-metal growling vocals, this is probably the hardest song so far. Again, I like the instrumentation, but the vocals struck out with me. Grade: C-

10. “Mongoose”-Carried over from “Snake,” this ditty features the similar vocal style as “Note to Self.” Not a bad tune, but again not my favorite: Grade: B-

11. “Gorilla Warfare”-This is not really much of a song in itself, but definitely sets the stage for this album’s final chapter. Grade: B

12. “Apeocalypse”- Chilled Monkey Brains showcases what they do best; changing pace and musical styles within the same song. The long intro makes the listener wonder what they are in store for. The aggressive vocals are contrasted nicely with the smooth jazz trumpet solo. Nice way to finish this album off. Grade: B-

Well let’s get this out of the way first. I do not like screaming or death-metal-like vocals. This is just personal preference and is the reason why I downgraded some of the songs. The risk you run when blending several musical styles is twofold: sure you create something that is truly unique, but will it appeal to a larger audience or a much smaller one. Other than the style of vocals, to me this is an amazing album; chock full of things that I have not heard yet in ska music (I have been listening to ska since 1996). I always appreciate a band that has perfected their craft even if it is within the narrow confines of a music style, however, every once in a while, a band comes along that is truly unique and that stands out in the crowd. This my friends, is Chilled Monkey Brains. They have effortlessly created a fusion of so many sounds (metal, punk, hardcore, ska, funk and synth-pop) into 12 cohesive songs, yet never losing the qualities of each individual part. The instrumental arrangements are one of a kind as well, with prominent horns at every twist and turn. This album will appeal most to those who like their ska loud, hard and fast, in the vein of Metallica and Slayer. With equal parts Mighty Mighty Bosstones, NOFX and Dragon Force, this 800 lb. gorilla in the room is a force to be reckoned with! Overall Grade: B

So what did you think? Share it my friend!

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