[29 February 2012]
Montia, an indie quartet that formed in 2005 released its first LP, Lust and Fire in 2010 and is pre-producing its next album. The band’s MySpace page brags, noting, “From the producer of Chevelle, Incubus, Three Days of Grace, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alter Bridge”. That sort of approach may be the exact wrong way to go, as the band’s album, Lust and Fire, sounds absolutely overproduced—too computerized, too overdone. Jeriah Eager’s vocals are too clean; same with the guitar work. If Montia plans to hit derivative status, that may be the ticket to ride.
Notwithstanding, the band’s live show is nothing short of a worthwhile blast—being raw, bloody, and, in fact, a success. It’s an old-school rock gig at a 300-seat club where the acoustics are remarkable. Even a nine-song set that lasts little over an hour proves material—merit goes a long way. Luke Schlup, Montia’s bassist, agrees: “It was an amazing show—we were very glad to share that very intimate setting with our home town fans before going back out on the road”. Moreover, the band plays most of its new LP, and fans cheer during the whole set. Afterwards, several fans speak to Montia, praising the show. Can’t beat that sort of enthusiasm!
One major concern this evening is that the band is far too rehearsed—applying every trick in the live rock arsenal. There is too much gesturing—many times when not warranted. For instance, during just about every number the vocalist, guitarist, and bassist bang their heads in unison. This band is not in the least Slayer or Morbid Angel, though admittedly it flirts with heavy metal. Hint: Lots of screaming, mainly from bassist Schlup, but sometimes from Eager too. If one simply witnesses a few live shows one can see through these tactics.
Additionally, through most of the gig, the band’s guitarist puts his leg over a piece of equipment in some weak attempt to prove authoritative. Montia also contrasts an ostensibly romantic song with a harder one. When vocalist Eager comments, “This one’s for the ladies in the house”, I smirk, I wasn’t aware any ladies were present. But to no surprise, the audience cheers after the harder, non-romantic, “Lust and Fire”. Other tricks: two members move to the front of the stage, naming several songs, the typical drum solo, playing a new song, plugging an album, and more. That said, the band is attempting to acquire recognition and respect, and it is a youthful group.
Concerning songs, “Brave New World” is quite splendid in performance; though it’s uncertain if its title stems from Shakespeare or Huxley. But it combines several genres, metal, classic and modern alternative, as well as mainstream hard rock. The band must improve its lyrics—platitudes like “soldiers die for their leaders’ greed” won’t cut it. “Broken” is undeniably a winner, as the drum solo is formidable; and the call for the audience to raise its arms works well. The ultra-metallic “Part of Me” is totally inscrutable, an unrelenting scream-fest, a la Slayer; nonetheless it’s beloved. But vocalist Eager seems Cobain-like, or, Grohl-like when he sings and plays. Some fancy, nuanced guitar solos and some yelling once in a while though he’s more alt-rock than anything. He is a stark contrast to the screaming, bassist-singer Schlup.
Before the show, during the band’s sound check, two of Montia’s mates put in the drink order, “eight glasses of water and a Jager”. This is a nice metaphor for a band whose principal, recognizable dilemma is a concern over what specific genre they happen to be. More bluntly, Montia has a crisis of musical type. Bassist Schlup considers his band to be “hard rock and metal”. Yet these are vastly separate genres and tonight’s show evinces components of these genres and more: classic alternative (Nirvana, Soundgarden), progressive (Tool, System of a Down), metal (Slayer, Pantera), and modern alternative (Nickelback, Linkin Park). Montia needs to make some errors, rapidly put out a live album, and choose a reasonable genre. If the band has aspirations to hit the mainstream, Montia should do so on its own terms.