Review: “Bitter Wisdom” by Living Monstrosity

Starting life in Stoke-on-Trent as a one man home-studio project with two albums and several EPs, multi-instrumentalist Tom Hubball crafted a signature style of his own, creating catchy and emotionally charged extreme music that blends wide ranging influences from Black Metal through Grindcore to Ska Punk and even as far reaching as Eastern Folk music for Living Monstrosity. Variety being very much the spice of life. Evolving into a full band with the desire to play live, showcase some talent and spread the word, Hubbard, who plays guitar and drums while adding vocals, recruited guitarist and vocalist Dane Pavitt, bass player and vocalist Nathan Meigh and guitarist Mike Foxall and together they’ve created “Bitter Wisdom”.

The first point of note is that Drums, Vocals, Mixing and Mastering were handed by Tom Carter at Riff Factory while Thomas Hubball handled recording of the guitars himself. Whether that was down to the studio time wanted the get them just how he wanted is an interesting point as there is no lack of cohesion between the two aspects due to he quality of Carter’s work. “Every Worthless Second” brings Frankenstein’s monster to life with Cathedral grandiosity with some Melodic Black Metal touches and a multilayered approach that gives it a huge sound. “L’appel Du Vide” or “The Call Of The Void” is a similarly harrowing affair with intersplicing clean and unclean vocal lines adding weight to the huge intrumental portion of the bands sound. Some of the guitar work is as technically as good as any Nordic native guitarist could produce. Elongated passages of instrumentation allows for gradual rises and falls with development of patterns with efficiency and effectiveness. “As Her Cancer Blackens The Earth” takes this a step further, adding three minutes to the track time to incorporate some additional interesting moments. The thing with this cut is that it’s two songs in one with a Black Metal first five minutes that then falls away to build up again with acoustic guitar work for a melodic bridge that builds back gradually into a melodic version of the opening part. It’s a demonstration of purpose and mastery of craft that it is done so effortlessly. “An Awakening….” is a subtle interlude with part Eastern promise with tomtoms and ambience and part off Jazz leads, again showcasing the skill in balancing two styles that might not otherwise fit together.

“….To Seek The Burning Sun” lifts from “An Awakening….” which is the shortest track with vocals. The guitar work is surprisingly reminiscent of some early 90s stylings however the savage and demonic possession based uncleans draw you into some of its intricacies with some beautiful lead flourishes. “Shifting Seasons” takes the epic nature of the musicianship and turns it into a song that instrumentally depicts the changing of the seasons with a style and grace. From the first half of Progressive build though multilayered melodic guitar work to the change of gear into the Black Metal riffs moving in concentric circles after a base bridge. Moving back into heavier territory with the most brutal vocal performance of the album, “In The Guise Of Winter” is well written but there is an emotive edge that drives it which is well disguised. The emission is perhaps easier to hide with the intellectual lyrics and epic progressions but it is right there underneath the mask.

Wanting to wipe the useless memories from one’s mind like the red light in Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones Men In Black movies “Annihilation” puts that thought to a broken relationship with some Doom leaning riffs that play off in thunderous fashion. The slow burn of the music is the ointment to the chemical burn agony of the caustic vocals. Swirling storm moods of guitar work build up and crash down thought in fine effect. Closing the album with a pair of tunes that together clock in at 20 minutes is an interesting move and one that lends itself to a band that have given themselves as much creative freedom as they wish. The shoegazing “You Failed Me” is a slow depiction of mental anguish around a broken relationship, the lessons learned and how to survive. For all the bleakness in the black depths of the lyrics the music counter balances with a beauty that surrounds it like warm cloak on an icey cold winter’s day. The gentle drop off at 6 minutes to allow for a bring back and virtuoso piece of lead work during a final verse is simply immense. Title track “Bitter Wisdom” features a guest vocal and from former Vulgore frontman Ian D.G. Bennett and brings with it a change of heart with a chant of “I refuse to die, I will survive” before it’s Black Metal comes to life and offers hope when all seemed lost. Style shifting into another song around the four minute mark and building in some more virtuoso lead work before switching to acoustics leaves the song feeling like the Metal equivalent of Classical Music. With Blast beats. The clean vocals have a choral quality to them and just when you think you’ve heard all that Living Monstrosity have to offer they come back with another fresh idea and craft it into the mix with a seamlessness that make it all seem effortless [7.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Every Worthless Second
  2. L’appel Du Vide
  3. As Her Cancer Blackens The Earth
  4. An Awakening…
  5. …To Seek The Burning Sun
  6. Shifting Seasons (Instrumental)
  7. In The Guise of Winter
  8. Annihilation
  9. You Failed Me
  10. Bitter Wisdom (ft. Ian D.G. Bennett ex-Vulgore)

“Bitter Wisdom” by Living Monstrosity will appear on 11th October and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp


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