Dust off your denim jacket. Loosen your ponytail. Turn up il Mostro. Proceed to bang your head. Let this serve as a brief instructional guide as to how to handle the self-titled debut from iL Mostro. With their first full-length release on Deathkiss in January 2019, iL Mostro stakes their claim to have their name added to the already crowded history books of great rock bands from Boston, MA.
iL Mostro boasts themselves as a punk band from Boston. The spirited soaring vocals and pinch-harmonic-laden guitar riffs would say otherwise. I would argue that iL Mostro has more in common with Judas Priest than they do with Black Flag. This is to their credit, rather than their detriment. The harkening back to the glory days of thrash and power metal make iL Mostro more fun than morose. Regardless of whether or not this was the intended effect, seemingly not being obligated to take the band too seriously plays well for the group. When viewed through this lens, elements that may have otherwise come off as cheesy become playful, and thus far more enjoyable.
iL Mostro is at their best when leaning on these familiar tropes of dizzying vocal melodies and raucous, shredding guitar lines. Johnny Machine is obviously a journeyman rock performer, displaying an excellent vocal range and competent guitar work throughout the record. Shane’s energetic drumming, I’d suggest, is the lone element that keeps iL Mostro from becoming retro; his playing is distinctly modern and adds a much needed flare to the band’s sound.
By that same token, the album is at its weakest when it deviates from the tried and true classics. In tracks such as “Immurement,” there is an apparent attempt to sound more contemporary, and in doing so the charm of the band wanes. It is certainly more digestible for the general listening public, but this attempt for accessibility winds up weakening the punch and coming off as a radio-rock miss.
Above all other considerations, the crucial component that makes il Mostro work as well as it does is the air-tight song structure. When you want a guitar solo, there’s a guitar solo. When you’re getting tired of the way things are going, there’s a perfectly placed bridge to the rescue. A section that may have otherwise seemed dim, is brightened by an exciting rest or a clever drum fill. It is precisely this attention to detail and obvious effort in the writing process that lift iL Mostro above many of their contemporaries. They are not merely going through the paces, they are carefully crafting songs that work from start to finish. This effort has its reward, because regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the genre, you must concede that these are not bad songs as such.
Is il Mostro a record that is going to shake the foundation of rock music? Probably not. But, this record is an admirable effort of tightly crafted songs delivered with precision and grace. The potential is there. Although il Mostro may not have solidified the band’s name in those aforementioned history books, it’s earned them a mention in the margins. This is a solid debut and a respectable first step toward one day becoming one of those great rock band from Boston, Massachusetts.
Written by Cy Williams
*edited by Danielle Kenedy