The Libel Belt exceeds expectations from five seasoned musicians (Andrew Waterman–vocals, viola–Brad Morgan–bass–Christain Gagnon–guitar and backing vocals–Devon Milley–drums, and Stefan Warbanski–synths), all of which have played in various bands and have solidified a major component of the local music scene. This album was mixed by Ian Blurton–who formed C’mon, and mastered by J. J. Golden, and who has mastered albums by Soundgarden, Xiu Xiu, and Neko Case, along with many other notable bands.
The Libel Belt is like listening to a jam session, with its many peaks of spontaneity, giving the listener the band’s precious moments of creativity. Akin to Monsterbator’s previous releases, their music appears at a raw and sophisticated level which is overwhelming yet controlled, and demonstrates how these musicians share an unspoken control of their music that is rare to hear. It is because of Monsterbator’s loose and deliberate compositions that the music is devoid of pretension, which can happen only with creative and introspective musicians who bring to the table their own nuances while connecting to each other at the same time.
The Libel Belt’s visceral quality is based in the band’s collective musical instincts. Behind the louder points of the songs are silent moments in which the members bridge to one another, and within these instances of negative space one should pay attention, for here lies the inner complexity of their music; the hidden aspects which involve the imagination of the listener, and the band members’ attentive ear for each other. Monsterbator’s continuous brash and soft soundscapes are made more potent by the length of their songs which are shortened such that they are never over-exhausted, and even at their loudest, the audible field is open ever so slightly for good listening. The beat arrangements are complex and coiled with discordant rhythms, which lends a sublime quality to the listener that is pure cathartic energy.
“The Audition” evokes a balance between natural and eerie tones with subtle instrumental transitions that fuel the eclectic atmosphere. With “Brilliantly Bred” the members are abstracted from each other and every instrument is heard in isolation while the whole remains cohesive; a scarce quality for a band that is fearlessly loud. “Bury The Facts” allows a glimpse of Monsterbator’s brilliant tempo shifts which leaves the listener on unstable ground, and “Sanitary Commotion” cements the band’s mastery of song introductions, and penchant for moody tonal expressions.
Monsterbator’s The Libel Belt is a thorough example of fantastic musicians working together as a whole: Milley and Morgan’s pulsating rhythm section bleeds together as a parallel framework for the whole, Gagnon’s guitar work is frenzied but calculated, Warbanski’s synths observant and lucid, and Waterman’s mind-boggling lyricizing make The Libel Belt an expression of music that extends beyond common potential.
– Martin Poole