The Montauk Project: Belly of the Beast Review

The Montauk Project is a four piece alt-rock outfit from Montauk, New York, compromised of Mark Schiavoni (Guitar/Vocals), Jasper Conroy (Drums), Chris Wood (Bass), and Jack Marshall (Lead Guitar/Vocals.) The band gets its moniker from a now abandoned military project that was, depending on whom you ask, home to some freaky time-travel experiments and exploits involving psychological warfare.  It’s a fitting name. From the moment you hear the opening bass line of “Good as Gold,” you know you’re in for a strange journey.  After building a solid following on the East Coast, picking up a Jägermeister sponsorship, and releasing a few EPs, Belly of the Beast is their first full length and these young fellas knew what they were doing.

Belly of the Beast is actually an incredibly pretty album; it’s recorded very well and makes for great headphone music, particularly the song “Dreams.”  The Montauk Project manage to forgo “rawk” bombast and maintain a calm-heavy vibe throughout the album without falling prey to typical classic rock hero worship.  “The Beast” comes close, but in a good way, with Schiavoni and Marshall letting out concentrated bursts of Mountain-esque  fuzz, while still remaining true to their beach bum aesthetic.   “Lady in White” starts with a bluesy stomp that’s somewhere between ZZ Top and Free, but quickly steers into Grateful Dead/Doors territory with Schiavoni and Marshall chanting their promises to “teach you how to fly.”  Sign me up, brothers, I’m there.  “Blackjack” is the last track on the album and it’s a bruiser.  On this track the Soundgarden/Alice in Chains influence that is only hinted at in earlier tracks comes into full view.  It’s a hell of a closer, building and swelling to an intense climax; with Schiavoni belting he’ll “be back before you’re gone.”  If any song makes you want to drive a Camaro into the desert at full speed, it’s this one.

Belly of the Beast does not disappoint.  The Montauk Project have managed to cook up a groovy, psychedelic sound that is familiar but still their own.  Kudos to Matthew King for his contribution to the studio sound, you really don’t get many un-signed bands releasing albums that are this polished.  The sky’s the limit for these guys, with a first album this solid, I can only imagine what’s to come in the future if they keep at it.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Good as Gold
– Dreams
– The Beast
– Lady in white
– Blackjack

The Big Hit

– Blackjack

Review by Tripp Shumake

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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