When I first saw the album cover for The 99 Degree’s latest album, ‘El Monstruo’, I was quite interested. Having not heard the band before I thought I was in for an upbeat listening, maybe some ska music or something Spanish/Mexican inspired from the luchador masks.
The first song ‘John the Killer’ starts off with a build up of guitar strums and clanging drums before heading into an old western style melody, this was a good start it felt like something new that you don’t hear much of these days. Unfortunately, the vocals lost me completely. There were too many voices that didn’t work well and lost the lyrics. It was hard to hear what was going on in the song.
Next up was their latest single ‘Flatline’. I thought maybe it had just got off to a bad start. I was wrong. ‘Flatline’ suffers from the same problems as the first song. The overly reverbed guitar gives the song a lot of weight and adds a cool feel to the song but then the constant AHHHHHH in the background takes away for the vocals. Again, it feels like there is just too much being piled into the song. One silver lining in the song is the mini guitar solo mid-way through.
It’s the same story for the third song on the album ‘Young Flame’. The rolling drumbeat, and guitar riff give you hope that it is going to have a different style. However, the droning voice in the background just seem so pointless and it only brings the song down. It’s a real shame because out of the songs on the album ‘Young Flame’ has good instrumental music and the potential to have a good chorus, I really liked the chord changes to chorus.
‘Dead or Alive’ is the 4th track and the one I don’t have much of a problem with. It has an interesting western style riff running through the song and sings about an old west sheriff hunting a bandit. It feels like an old spaghetti western film. The song is what I expected the first song on the album to be
Finally, the album ends with ‘Young Flame (Reprise)’. I hoped there might be one last saving grace, but it just feels like they ran out of energy. The clangy guitar in the song sounds as they didn’t have enough energy to play properly, plus even the vocals sounds bored. Amazingly though there is an instrumental section in this song that ain’t half bad. If it was used in a different song, I think it would be a good piece of music but the rest of the song around it just takes away the glory.
Overall ‘El Monstruo’ demonstrates the talent and passion the lads have. Unfortunately, in their passion they have filled their songs with as much as they can which mean the best bits get hidden away and don’t have a chance to shine. The main problem throughout the album is the ahhh in a few songs, take that out and you have some well-crafted songs. The 99 Degree are doing things differently which is admirable, so I hope they do well but for now they have a few things to take into their next project.