With True Rockers, Canadian quartet Monster Truck are out to prove that they live up to the album’s title. After a fruitful couple of years touring with the likes Deep Purple and Nickelback, anticipation was high from their growing fanbase. Third albums are notoriously difficult, however; after ploughing a certain style, many bands alter their sound in a bid to either keep things fresh or shift a few more album sales. Unfortunately, True Rockers feels more like the latter and pales in comparison to previous records, due to a shift away from the band’s classic groovy blues stylings.
The record comes flying out of the trap with “True Rocker”. It’s a fast and furious song, featuring plenty of energy and a catchy central riff. It gets better, too, thanks to a fantastic guest appearance from the legendary Dee Snider. Preaching to the converted, Snider’s spoken word section at the end of the track excellently caps off the song. He shouts out, “We are gathered here today to pay respect to rock and roll. To testify that we are true rockers. To say that rock and roll is not dead, because it lives in our hearts.” It’s powerful, memorable and so much fun.
“Thundertruck” picks up from where “True Rocker” left off. This time, however, an organ comes into play, adding a good layer of blues depth to proceedings. Then we dive head first into the controversial “Evolution”. Released as the first single from the album, “Evolution” divided fans thanks to overuse of effects on John “Marv” Harvey’s otherwise career-topping vocals and a lack of the band’s signature blues licks. It isn’t the only track on the record that lacks in the blues or groove department: “Being Cool is Over”, “In My Own World” and “Young City Hearts” spring to mind, but “Young City Hearts” is the worst offender.
Listen to this if you are a "True Rocker":
Never before have Monster Truck genuinely produced a bad song, in spite of the diversity they’ve explored. Some are slower, some are faster, some are heavier; “Young City Hearts” is none of these things. It’s a cheesy, upbeat rock track that sounds nothing like any Monster Truck before or after it. Fuzzy riffs do add a bit of personality, but it’s more reminiscent of latter-day Biffy Clyro than of Monster Truck. It’s damned repetitive too, with the tame chorus rearing its ugly head more often than it should. Tracks like this are indicative of a tamer Monster Truck, holding back on their excellent heavy blues-rock origins.
Thankfully, “Devil Don’t Care” exists. This is pure, from the heart, blues. It’s tremendously catchy, dark, groovy, and features some of the best use of harmonica I’ve come across in my 24 years on this Earth. It should go down as a classic in their catalogue. “Denim Danger”, “Undone”, and “The Howlin’” are great, too, so on balance, there is plenty to love about True Rockers. It’s missing some of the blues that was so good in Monster Truck of old, but there’s more than enough energy and quality riffs. Marv’s voice, too, has never been better.
While it’s not on the same level as Furiosity or Sittin’ Heavy, True Rockers is a good album. Tracks such as “Devil Don’t Care”, “True Rocker” and “Denim Danger” more than compensate for the tame “Evolution”, “Being Cool is Over” and poor “Young City Hearts”. While easing off on the group’s iconic heavy blues sound is a little disappointing, True Rockers still gets the thumbs up from me.
Hit play and witness the band’s “Evolution”.
True Rockers Track Listing:
01. True Rocker
04. Devil Don’t Care
05. Being Cool is Over
06. Young City Hearts
08. In My Own World
09. Denim Danger
11. The Howlin’
Run Time: 39:55 Release Date: September 14, 2018 Record Label: Mascot Records