Released: 2006, Armageddon Music
With a name like Gorilla Monsoon, I can’t say I wasn’t extremely sceptical and was expecting something entirely different than what I got. The name, to me, pointed to grind or some form of hardcore mostly because it’s that style of band that would take the odd name of Gorilla Monsoon (possibly named after the pro wrestler and WWF commentator?). What I got from this German band is slightly modernized rocking doom metal.
With two demos, a 10” split with Weed in the Head, an appearance at Wacken Open Air and opening for many heavyweight doom bands, not to mention an EP (FOUR TO CONQUER) that was released only a couple months before this debut full-length album, Gorilla Monsoon and their label, Armageddon Music, are obviously starting off with a big push, hoping that it pays off. The only thing is that the push will only pay off if the music is worth listening to. The problem is that while DAMAGE KING isn’t a bad album, it’s not terribly interesting either.
Gorilla Monsoon play rocking doom metal, never pushing into near drone category and always attempting to keep some kind of noticeable rock groove. Vocally Jack Sabbath takes the gravely singing voice, not unlike Fireball Ministry’s grittier vocal style, and carries it on through most of the album. There are many modern nods here and there, especially during “Night of the Wolverine” where the riffs start off in a very undoom-like way (probably more befitting of Obituary than a doom band) and the vocals start to resemble James Hetfield circa the late 90’s. Many riffs also sound like they were ripped from the latest Theory of a Deadman album and put through the doom metal riff filter to make it sound dirty. The main problem permeating throughout the entire album though is that there’s no life or spirit throughout much of the recording. Now I know most will say that doom metal isn’t exactly the liveliest form of music, which is true, but the music has to be played with passion, whether it is laid back or heavy oppressive riffing. Not to mention that much of the band’s riffs are pretty flat sounding.
The album gets off to a slow start with the instrumental “Declaration of Damnation”. The song takes a while to build up and eventually develops into a slow jam based around a single riff, which is probably the best riff you’ll hear on the album and reminds me of Electric Wizard... It actually would have been interest to see the band develop it a bit more. In “Delay Priest” the pace is immediately picked up to a basic upbeat rock tempo. Sabbath’s vocals start off digitized to the point that there’s really no melody to them whatsoever and it’s slightly grating to listen to, especially when one is expecting a pure rock track. When the effects are taken off, the song picks up and becomes more appealing despite a lack of solid riffing. It honestly just comes off as mindless riffing. Lots of modern groove permeates, title track, “Damage King”. It’s as if the band takes a modern rock song and filters it through the “doom metal fuzz” guitar sound, and while it may sucker a few people in, I’m not too pleased about this track. By the end of the album there’s still no hope left for Gorilla Monsoon, “War to the Wimps” is limp wristed rock that tries really hard to have some balls and it’s unfortunate the song doesn’t live up to its South Park clip intro.
I was impressed Gorilla Monsoon didn’t play grind or hardcore and that’s basically where I stopped being impressed with DAMAGE KING. This album is basically what would happen if you took Black Sabbath, mixed it with LOAD-era Metallica, and threw in some post-2000 mainstream rock. Sound appealing? More than likely not but I honestly think the style COULD theoretically work, Gorilla Monsoon just aren’t the band to do it.