Monotonix, the rowdy three-piece from Tel Aviv Israel, are notorious for their live show antics that have resulted in their banishment from venues across the globe. Search out any live review of the band and the chances are good you’ll read about smashed instruments, flaming rolls of toilet paper tossed into the crowd, beverages stolen from patrons, microphones being inserted into bodily orifices that microphones were never meant to be inserted, and so on. There are even instances of the band relocating themselves, guitar, drum kit and all, into the washrooms. In fact, the stage is the one place Monotonix do their damnedest to avoid! So needless to say, seeing the band live is its own reward, but how do they measure up musically?
Not Yet, the band’s second full-length album from Drag City records is a dirty garage-rock assault on the senses that exerts an in-your-face attitude and flushes any kind of polish down the toilet. Ami Shalev shouts more than sings, ending most of the lyrics in guttural shrieks or drawling slurs. In early tracks such as “Everything That I See”, in which Shalev starts by hacking into the microphone, the style works, but it soon gets repetitive and the songs more indistinctive the deeper you delve into the album. The same can be said for the gritty guitar work of Yonatan Gat. It’s obvious he can play very well, but the skill he exhibits in those coarse riffs easily gets lost in the all-consuming mess of Shalev’s lyrics and relentless drumming of Haggai Fershtman. That being said, the fact that the band can create such huge sound using only a lead guitar and drums is impressive.
Despite its flaws, the album has a bright spot. The second-to-last track “Late Night” is a complete departure from the chaos of the rest of the record and reveals the band does have the ability to write and perform a decent rock melody. It’s quite possible Monotonix’s objective is not to sell a load of records, but rather to create soundtracks that complement their infamous live shows. And that’s ok. But if they hope to increase their fan base through the music they record, Not Yet makes a suitable title for the effort.