Monkey Business - The Noble Art of Wasting Time
Powerzone Records
80's Sleaze / Hair Metal
11 songs (52:25)
Release year: 2006
Monkey Business, Powerzone Records
Reviewed by Mike

Monkey Business is a five piece band that formed in 2001, and they hail from northern Italy. Most newer Italian metal bands that I've been exposed to usually fall in the power metal, progressive metal, or symphonic metal vein. Monkey Business is a stark departure from that mold, as they play 1980's L.A. sleaze / hair metal. Once you hear the first two songs, Wake Up And Rock and What the Fuck!?, you quickly realize that the lyrics are just as silly and 80's-o-rific as the music. Again, this is an odd sound to be coming out of Italy in 2007, but I definitely have to tip my hat to the band for releasing an album that they truly believe in. Prior to The Noble Art of Wasting Time, the band released a demo, and contributed to a compilation of Italian rock and metal bands.

From start to finish, The Noble Art of Wasting Time is your conventional 80's style sleaze rock / hair metal album. Even the production has a very retro flavor to it. The guitar work is very energetic and over the top, which actually complements the songs very well. Occasionally, the full throttle shredding and soloing reminds me a bit of a Steve Vai's work on David Lee Roth's Eat 'Em and Smile, minus any of the blues influences. Of course, the songs are melodic in nature, and very obviously crafted in a big stadium, anthemic manner. Harmony vocals are used throughout, especially during the choruses to drive home the melodies. Unfortunately, the band's choice of Valerio Sciascia as lead vocalist may substantially hold Monkey Business back from large scale success. He lacks great range, especially in the higher registers. Quite often, he pushes well beyond his capabilities. A significant portion of the lyrics are sung in higher registers, especially the faster songs and most of the choruses. Sciascia's delivery is extremely thin and strained at these levels, something that is prevalent enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the album. Either the man will need to stay within his capabilities in the future, or the band will need a new singer who can properly hit these high notes for a majority of the length of an album. I know that sounds quite brash, but I sincerely do not feel that Sciascia's voice is made for these type of songs. I have many, many cd's from obscure 80's bands in my collection in the same vein of this album. Given the fact that such high pitched singing was a trend back then, there were an unfortunate number of vocalists who far exceeded their ranges in order to sing in this "standard" way. Just ask Jason McMaster about his time with Watchtower, for example. Some vocalists were able to pull it off better than others, while others had that "balls in a pair of vice grips" sound. Unfortunately, Sciascia's delivery borders on the latter. While the songs themselves are pretty good, there is absolutely nothing spectacular about them either. Many bands have done this type of music before, and have done it better. On the other hand, plenty of bands have done worse, especially during the late 80's when the market for this type of music became over saturated. The final track, Every Now And Then is by far the band's best output, thanks to some outstanding guitar work, including some dual leads and hammering riffs. Monkey Business' take on the Journey classic Separate Ways comes out very well. The guys stay pretty true to the original, but beef it up with heavier guitars and less keyboards.

All in all, The Noble Art of Wasting Time is not a spectacular debut, yet I wouldn't say that you would be indulging in the noble art of wasting time by giving it a chance either. The songs are good, but no more than that. This type of thing has been done better in the past, but this album is definitely good enough for die hard fans of the genre to check out. After all, plenty of bands have done worse than this, and there isn't much in terms of new sleaze / hair metal being released these days anyway. It will be interesting to see what the band does in terms of lead vocalists. If they stick with Sciascia, I feel that they will need to write songs more conducive to middle range vocals. Valerio just cannot handle the sustained high pitched singing that these songs demand. As the band continues to work together, I'm sure they will be able to turn a steady platter of just "good" songs into more than that. At this point, I definitely see Monkey Business as a promising band. While The Noble Art of Wasting Time may have its drawbacks, I like the band's attitude and sound. I'm sure the songwriting will progress, and I will certainly be on the lookout for the band's second album to see how far they've come.

Killing Songs :
Wake Up and Rock, What The Fuck!?, Every Now And Then
Mike quoted 62 / 100
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